- Working Paper
Coal companies have provided a key source of financial support to Greene County not only through employment, but also by contributing to the real estate and mineral value taxes that fund a significant portion of county, township, and school district activities. Due in part to company closures, tax revenue contributed by coal companies did not keep up with inflation, and in many cases decreased, between the years 2010 and 2019. Green County’s heavy reliance on coal companies for tax revenue poses a significant risk to its present and future economic health, with the potential to affect all residents and town activities, and may particularly impact vulnerable residents. While the coal industry is on the decline, this region has seen an increase in methane gas (also called natural gas) production as part of the shale gas boom. However, because of the structure of the tax base, we show that increases in gas production, and taxes paid by gas companies, are unlikely to make up for lost coal tax revenue. Taxes paid by large retail firms, property developers, and medical institutions also do not make up for lost tax revenue. The authors argue that as the country moves to a low-carbon economy to slow climate change, there is a need to look at the local fiscal impacts to ensure a just transition for at-risk communities.