The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and the group Downstream Strategies have issued a report saying the coal industry is actually a drain on the Illinois economy.
The report said that when tax credits and subsidies are taken into account, the coal industry cost the state 20 million dollars more than it brought in for 2011.
The report showed that direct grants and subsidies to the coal industry cost Illinois around 12 million dollars.
It also showed that when indirect subsidies to the industry to provide employment are taken into account, employment from the coal industry actually cost the state 200 thousand dollars more than the tax revenues brought in.
Director of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, Jack Darin, said the report provides a different view in a debate that’s often seen as pitting economic concerns versus environmental ones.
"People assume that because some people would work at a coal mine that it's on balance a good economic choice and we wanted to see whether or not that was true. What we found was it's really not," Darin said.
The report recommends further study and more transparency when it comes to the amount of public money going toward the coal industry.
It also recommends a permanent mineral trust fund and stresses that the lingering costs of past mining activity are still significant.