Grijalva, Pallone Urge Interior to Resume NAS Study on Mountaintop Removal Mining, Question False Budgetary Rationale

Washington, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) today sent a letter with several colleagues to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging him to allow the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) to resume an ongoing study of the health impacts of mountaintop removal mining. The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement halted the study last week citing budgetary restrictions – a rationale the letter points out does not stand up to even casual scrutiny.

The letter, available at http://bit.ly/2w439Gl, points out that no other NAS studies funded by DOI agencies have been canceled for the same reason. The lawmakers urge Zinke to reinstate the study immediately and state that its cancellation “shows that the administration values the public image of the coal mining industry more than the public health of the people of Appalachia.”

“This administration doesn’t just ignore science, it actively suppresses it,” Grijalva said today. “This study has already collected a great deal of information, and throwing it down the memory hole is a betrayal of the public trust. President Trump and Secretary Zinke have turned the federal government into a willing tool of the coal industry, and unless they reinstate this study immediately they’re admitting the American people’s public health is less important than covering for a polluter.”

“By canceling the NAS’s study, the Trump administration is once again placing the health of the American people at risk in order to do the bidding of corporate interests,” Pallone said. “While we already know that living near mountaintop removal sites can lead to cardiovascular disease, lung disease and birth defects, Secretary Zinke must continue vital research that could lead to new approaches to safeguard the health of people living near these sites.”

The letter is also signed by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), ranking member of the Budget Committee; Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), ranking member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations; and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), ranking member of the Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Oversight.

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