(KCPW News) While Utah leaders frequently emphasize the importance of fossil fuels to the state’s economy, a new study by a nonpartisan research group finds mining jobs account for only one percent of total employment in the state. That’s the lowest of the five western states that were examined in the report, which also looked at Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and New Mexico.
“Overall, in a state like Utah, mining obviously creates high-wage opportunities in a select few areas, but is a very small part of total employment in the state,” says Dr. Julia Haggerty.
Haggerty is the report’s author and a policy analyst for Headwaters Economics in Montana.
The study also finds that severance tax revenues account for just two percent of Utah’s overall tax income, the second lowest of the five states. Haggerty says that could be increased if exemptions are removed and the severance tax is increased.
“We would definitely encourage the Utah Legislature and voters to think seriously about the missed opportunity that transpires when you don’t tax at the most effective rate possible,” she tells KCPW.
A bill that would have raised the severance tax was rejected by a committee in the Utah House of Representatives earlier this year. An oil-and-gas trade group, the Western Energy Alliance, disputes the findings of the Headwaters report, telling the Associated Press there’s an agenda behind it.
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