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Recognizing the mounting humanitarian crisis from mountaintop removal mining in the Appalachian coalfields, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) joined Congressional representatives from across the nation today and introduced H.R. 5959, The Appalachian Communities Health Emergency (ACHE) Act. The historic bill places "a moratorium on permitting for mountaintop removal coal mining until health studies are conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services."
"The ACHE Act will stop new mountaintop removal coal mines until the science clearly demonstrates the mines will not cost these hard working communities their health or their lives. It will also fund some of the best researchers in the world to carry out that science," Kucinich said.
Over the past few years, as impacted coal mining residents have pleaded for basic civil rights and environmental protection, more than 20 peer-reviewed studies have suggested higher risks and links between reckless strip mining and devastating health impacts, including birth defects, cancer and chronic heart, lung, and kidney disease. (A report released last week noted that strip miners are even subjected to unacceptable levels of black lung disease.)
"Today marks a new, but long overdue journey in the pursuit of justice for the victims of mountaintop removal mining," said Bo Webb, the 2010 Purpose Prize recipient with the Appalachian Community Health Emergency group, who lives under a mountaintop removal operation in West Virginia and has often testified to the toxic fallout of silica dust and heavy metals.
But this long overdue pursuit of justice for the victims of mountaintop removal did not come from the notoriously Big Coal-bankrolled representatives in the Congressional districts impacted most by mountaintop removal; just last month, in fact, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), among others, had retired coal miners and affected citizens arrested in their offices for attempting to simply discuss the health crisis.
Nearly four decades ago, eastern Kentucky author Harry Caudill pleaded with outside members of Congress to intervene on massive strip mining operations in his central Appalachian. "West Virginia, for example, has its own congressmen and its own senators who do nothing, say nothing, advocate nothing, see nothing wrong," Caudill told an interviewer. "It always takes someone like a man named Ken Hechler from New York or a man named John Kennedy from Massachusetts to notice that West Virginia is dying on the vine."
Thanks to Rep. Kucinich, Rep. Slaughter and Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, among others, Congress--and the Obama administration--must now finally take notice of one of the most egregious humanitarian and environmental crises in the nation. "As certain people of the Eastern Kentucky coalfields helped me to understand nearly 50 years ago, the fate of the land and the fate of the people are inseparable," renowned Kentucky author Wendell Berry wrote in support of the congressional Act. "Whatever affects the health of the land must affect the health of the people. From that understanding, it is clear that the measures called for in the ACHE Act should have been enacted many years ago. Granted even a minimal concern for the health of the land and people, and even minimal respect for the findings of science, the need for this bill now is obvious."
Led by a movement of affected Appalachian coalfield organizations, the ACHE Act has the backing of the major environmental groups in Washington, DC, including Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, as well as West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.
"The A.C.H.E. Act is a clear demand on behalf of people being poisoned by mountaintop removal that the poisoning cease and that we be afforded all the protections available to the rest of America," said Bob Kincaid, board president of the Coal River Mountain Watch. "We refuse to be the coal industry's sacrificial victims for even another instant."
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Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
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