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Five of Gov. Jim Justice’s family coal companies haven’t paid transportation fees that would go toward building and maintaining state roads.

They were among eight companies being investigated by the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) for outstanding Coal Resource Transportation System violations and unpaid tonnage fees. The orders come as Justice continues to tout his four-year “Roads to Prosperity” program to fund road construction projects across the state.

But according to the PSC’s orders, the companies failed to pay “tonnage fees” that would otherwise go toward constructing and repairing public highways and bridges that are heavily trafficked on by coal trucks.

The companies, according to the orders, also owe delinquent penalties from prior Notices of Violation. In all, the companies — Bluestone Industries; Chestnut Land Holdings, LLC; Kentucky Fuel Corporation; Nufac Mining Company, Inc. and Orchard Coal Company — owe $114,100 for outstanding violations that stem from failing to report, or inaccurately reporting coal shipments.

In one case, Bluestone Industries already entered into a $85,520 settlement agreement with the PSC that stemmed from unpaid fines and tonnage fees. The company paid about $53,500, though, before it stopped paying altogether.

Justice did not respond to a request for more information for this article.

Three other companies were among the eight cited last Friday by the Public Service Commission for similar reasons. Reserve Resource Partners, Inc., Southeastern Land, LLC and Tyler Morgan, LLC each was issued an order by the PSC for its outstanding notices of violation and failing to pay tonnage fees.

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According to state code, a shipper who loads more than 88,000 pounds of coal has to pay the PSC five cents per ton by the 10th day of the month. The PSC collects permit and tonnage fees for the West Virginia Division of Highways’ Road Fund.

That money in the Road Fund goes toward maintaining public roads that can get worn down by coal trucks.

In Fiscal Year 2018, the PSC collected about $1,561,655 in tonnage fees, and about $586,000 in Coal Resource Transportation System permit fees, said Susan Small, spokeswoman for the PSC.

The companies have until Aug. 9 to respond to the orders, and the PSC will ultimately decide whether to impose penalties.

This isn’t the first time Justice’s family companies have been ordered to pay delinquent penalties and fees.

During his campaign in 2016, NPR reported that Justice’s companies owed $15 million in six states for mine safety penalties, state coal severance and withholding taxes and property taxes, among other things.

Reach Kate Mishkin at kate.mishkin@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4843 or follow @katemishkin on Twitter.

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