Trump administration halts open-pit mine health study in Appalachia

COURIER-JOURNAL file photo Mining in Leslie County in 2008. Part of the mining operation at the Thunder Ridge surface mine operated by the International Coal Group (ICG) in Leslie County, Kentucky.  _ (By Arza Barnett, The Courier-Journal) _1 / 21/08 Caption: Photos by Arza Barnett, The Courier-Journal The Thunder Ridge mine is undergoing a planned 1.5 square mile expansion which, since December , became the most recent front line in a nationwide battle over mountain top removal and other methods of surface mining.

The Trump administration has put the brakes on a high-level scientific study into the health effects of people living near surface mines in central Appalachia, including eastern Kentucky, officials said Monday. .

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have confirmed that the Home Office has asked the science advisory group to halt work on the study during a budget review. The study aims to shed light on concerns that living near a surface mining operation can contribute to various health problems. It was started with funding from the former Obama administration.

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Two science panel meetings in Kentucky – one Monday night in Hazard and another Tuesday in Lexington – will go as planned, officials said. Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely and other state officials are expected to speak.

Cabinet spokesman John Mura said Snavely said he would reserve any comments on the announcement until then.

“The national academies believe this is an important study and we are ready to resume it as soon as the Home Ministry exam is completed,” the academies said in a written statement. “We are grateful to the members of our committee for their dedication to advancing this study.”

The Home Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Home Office of Surface Mining budgeted more than $ 1 million for the study, which was launched last year after a request from West Virginia, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Officials in that state wanted federal help sorting through dozens of scientific papers that had linked the removal of mountain tops to increased risks of birth defects, cancer and premature death among residents living near mines. large-scale coal in the Appalachians, the Gazette-Mail reported.

The mining industry claimed that some of the studies were biased.

In Kentucky, U.S. Representative John Yarmuth also called for more clarity on the issue.

“We have a public health crisis in the Appalachians that is a direct result of mountain top mining,” Yarmuth said in a written statement. mining on top of a mountain is pretty shameful. To prevent this study from being completed now would be reprehensible.

Contact reporter James Bruggers at 502-582-4645 and [email protected]

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