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For a 25% increase

Willie Dodson, central Appalachian field coordinator for Appalachian Voices, called on Congress to permanently increase a coal excise tax that funds black lung benefits for miners with the disease and their survivors by 25% during a webinar Wednesday evening.

Gary Hairston of Beckley was 48 when he had to quit mining coal because of black lung disease.

“I’d like to be able to do stuff with my grandson,” Hairston says now, 19 years later. “I can’t even do that because I ain’t got the wind to do it. Even going up steps is kind of tough.”

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Reach Mike Tony at mtony, 304-348-1236 or follow @Mike__Tony on Twitter.

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