Standing in front of huge pieces of mining equipment built by Joy Mining Machinery along with members of the General Assembly, coal industry representatives, Governor Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed legislation today that supports Virginia's coal industry by promoting tax credits for coal industry jobs in southwest Virginia, and making mining safer by requiring submission of mining maps and directional changes by companies extracting coal and natural gas in close proximity.
"Coal and natural gas development supports more than 57,000 Virginia jobs," Governor McDonnell said. "This is why we worked with the General Assembly to support safe and efficient mining operations that cultivate this proven source of energy to help make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast. These pieces of legislation I am signing today will make coal mining safer for those who work in the mines throughout the Commonwealth, and will spur the creation of more good-paying jobs in southwest Virginia directly related to mining, and also indirectly supported by mining operations such as those here at the Joy Mining Company."
Delegate Israel D. O'Quinn, sponsor of two bills signed by the governor today, said, "Here in southwest Virginia, mining is a vocation, an economic driver, and a way of life that has defined our communities. Virginia continues to be a leader in the exploration and development of traditional energy sources such as clean coal and natural gas, while pursuing additional energy technologies. The laws passed today will ensure the safety of our family members who work these mines, and will ensure that employment opportunities continue to exist for our communities."
Senator Bill Carrico, who sponsored Senate versions of both bills signed today, said, "It is incumbent upon state government to support the thriving coal and natural gas industries in southwest Virginia. The legislation signed today will support the vital jobs in this region, while protecting the safety of those who have dedicated their careers to extracting these valuable energy sources that power the Commonwealth."
Delegate Terry Kilgore, who represents Counties of Lee, Scott, and part of Wise as well as the City of Norton added, "Entwined in the fabric of life in this part of the Commonwealth is a long history of mining Virginia's coalfields to power our state and national economy. We are proud of this heritage. The laws signed by Governor McDonnell today show their support for this important industry and all those in southwest Virginia whose livelihoods are related to mining."
The bills ceremonial signed by the governor will take effect July 1, 2012.