USA Today reports that the cessation of the tax credit, which gives Westmoreland Coal Co $2.26 for every ton of coal it mines from the Crow reservation in Montana, is part of the so-called fiscal cliff.
The paper reports that tribal elders are worried that without the tax benefit the mine could close.
“The Crow reservation has never had much in the way of economic development for as long as we’ve all known it,”USA Today quotes tribal attorney Bill Watt.
“We have 40 per cent unemployment on reservations. We don’t have opportunities in this sparsely populated area for casinos to help us, like many tribes do.
“We believe coal is on our reservation for a purpose and that is to support the tribe.”
The credit for coal production is one of the smallest in a package of extenders. It affects only three tribes, the Hopi, the Crow and the Navajo.
The tax credit helps Crow coal as it has a relatively high sulfur content, which makes it harder to compete under the sulfur emissions standards in the Clean Air Act.