CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — For decades, coal from West Virginia's vast deposits was mined and hauled off without leaving behind the benefit of a lasting trust fund financed by the state's best-known commodity. Now a new bonanza in the natural gas fields has state leaders proposing to create an oil and natural gas trust fund for future generations.
State Senate President Jeff Kessler says such a fund could support core government functions years from now — and buoy a mountain state chronically vexed by poverty and boom-and-bust cycles.
The Democratic Senate leader said past generations missed out on creating a permanent fund from coal severance tax revenues. He hopes West Virginia's lawmakers — and perhaps voters — would approve a trust fund despite their concerns about ongoing budget struggles.