What health effects will all the mining Trump wants to bring back to Coal Country have on miners and their families? Thanks to the President’s Interior Department, we may never know.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine were in the middle of conducting a months-long study into a wide range of potential health risks related to increased surface mining. Cancer risks, water pollution, and the effects of potential soil toxicity were just some of the real-world consequences researchers were examining.
Then on Monday, the National Academies released a statement saying the Trump administration had abruptly ordered them to kill the study immediately.
“In an August 18 letter, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement informed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that it should cease all work on a study of the potential health risks for people living near surface coal mine sites in Central Appalachia.” National Academies statement.
This wasn’t exactly another allegedly onerous bureaucratic burden imposed on states by the Obama administration. The National Academies launched the study at the request of West Virginia officials in 2016, who wanted to better under stand the effects of “mountain top mining.
“Mountaintop removal mining has been shown to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other medical problems,” Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) told the New York Times today. “Stopping this study is a ploy to stop science in its tracks and keep the public in the dark about health risks as a favor to the mining industry, pure and simple.”
More from the Times:
Mountaintop removal, which has occurred on at least 500 Appalachian mountains, has clogged streams and waterways with heavy metals such as selenium and manganese, which can be toxic in high concentrations. The dust kicked up by these explosions is also considered a hazard.
Most economists are skeptical about the number of coal jobs the President can actually bring back. They’re even more doubtful about the impact those jobs will have on the economy in Appalachia long term. Still, it was a central campaign promise and theme, and it appears there’s nothing President Trump won’t sacrifice to deliver on it, even the health of the people he claims he wants to help.
Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.