CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Trump administration says budget concerns are why it has instructed the National Academy of Sciences to stop its study of potential public health issues caused by mountaintop removal coal mining.
The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement said the move is part of and agency-wide review of various grants. According to reports, OSM had dedicated $1 million to the study.
The state Department of Health and Human Resource’s Bureau of Public Health and state Department of Environmental Protection had requested the study. In a statement released to MetroNews Monday, the DHHR said it was still waiting to receive official word that the study had been put on hold.
“The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has not been formally notified of a such a decision. While we understand the right of the Department of Interior to conduct an agency-wide review of its grants and cooperative agreements, we are prepared to continue providing information to support any future work on the review,” the statement said.
Bill Price, Senior Appalachia Organizing Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign released the following statement:
“It’s infuriating that Trump would halt this study on the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining, research that people in Appalachia have been demanding for years. Trump has once again shown the people of Appalachia that we mean nothing to him. From his proposed budget cuts to the Appalachian Regional Commission, to pushing to take away healthcare from thousands of Appalachian people to now stripping doctors and scientists of the ability to warn us about the health effects of mountaintop coal removal, Trump’s showing that he’s only been pretending to care about our communities.”
Various medical reports have linked increased rates of illnesses like cancer and birth defects to areas where mountaintop removal has been prevalent.
The National Academy of Sciences held a meeting in connection with the study in Logan County back in May. It planned to go ahead with similar meetings in Kentucky Monday night and Tuesday.