A bill that would exempt uranium producers from a severance tax has passed through the House Revenue Committee. The goal is to ease the financial burden for companies when the market is particularly weak. The general counsel from Cameco, the state's largest uranium producer, said money saved would be used to improve operations and provide good paying jobs.
Douglas Senator Brian Boner co-sponsored the bill and said this isn't meant to save the industry, but to help companies tread water until markets improve.
"It's going to allow them to keep more people on hand and allow them to do more of the routine maintenance at their facilities, so that when the price does rebound, they'll be in possession and take advantage of that," Boner said.
But those against the bill argued the tax break won't help the industry and that it could open the door to tax exemptions for other minerals. Jill Morrison, executive director of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, said this strategy has been tried before.
"They have reduced the severance tax and it didn't bring the industry back. So, it's not going to bring it back this time either," she said.
Morrison said the state only gets one chance to tax the finite resource. The bill passed out of committee with a seven to two vote.