August 23, 2017 Read More →

Trump Administration Halts Study of Mountaintop Coal Mining’s Health Effects

Washington Post:

The Trump administration’s Interior Department ordered the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to halt a study of health risks for residents near surface coal mining sites in the Appalachian Mountains.

A statement by the academy said Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement dispatched a letter Friday telling it to cease all work by an 11-member committee undertaking the study pending a departmental review of projects costing more than $100,000.

The story was first reported by Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette-Mail. Scientists conducting the study said they will carry on with open meetings in Hazard and Lexington, Ky., Monday through Wednesday in the hopes that the review will end soon and that its work be allowed to continue. But the academy said it has no idea about the review’s expected start date and completion.

Coal mining in Central Appalachia, where the committee’s work is focused, includes mountaintop removal in which peaks have been blasted off and valley streams have been buried in rubble. Scientists have said the practice is so destructive that the government should stop issuing permits for it.

After a study in 2010, Margaret Palmer, then a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences and the study’s lead author, said, “The science is so overwhelming that the only conclusion that one can reach is that mountaintop mining needs to be stopped.”

But Trump has declared himself a friend of coal miners and coal mining companies. In March, he issued an executive order that lifted a ban on leases for coal excavation on federal land, making good on a vow to revive the struggling industry and create thousands of jobs.

“I made them this promise,” Trump said, “we will put our miners back to work.”

Industry analysts saw little chance of that. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said power plants’ relatively new reliance on natural gas over coal is the reason the industry is bleeding jobs. As of March, when the executive order was signed, six plants had closed since the president’s election and at least 40 were slated to close during his term.

Trump administration halted a study of mountaintop coal mining’s health effects

Posted in: IEEFA In the News

Comments are closed.