Coal / Mountaintop Removal

Coal mining health study is halted by Interior Department

Activist Larry Gibson looking over a ridge at the Kayford Mountain mountaintop removal site.

WASHINGTON, DC — “The Interior Department has ordered a halt to a scientific study begun under President Obama of the public health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which was conducting the study, said in a statement Monday that they were ordered to stop work because the Interior Department is conducting an agencywide budgetary review.

Last year, West Virginia officials asked the Obama administration to look into the health effects of mountaintop mining, a technique used to extract underlying coal.

…Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association, said the decision to halt the study may have been justified.

‘The National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences concluded in July that after examining available studies, it didn’t see evidence justifying a health hazard, noting that no conclusive evidence connected mountaintop mining with health effects and that studies often failed to account for extraneous health and lifestyle effects,’ he said.

Researchers are still trying to get a handle on the health impacts for people living in nearby Appalachian communities, many of whom are poor and have other health problems.”

— Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer, New York Times

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