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Immediate Moratorium Needed on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining to Protect Human Health

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Immediate Moratorium Needed on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining to Protect Human Health

Center for Health, Environment & Justice

Photo credit: ilovemountains.org

This week the National Commission on the Health Impacts of Mountaintop Removal Mining, a group of independent physicians and scientists, released recommendations for actions necessary to ensure the health and safety of the residents of Appalachia who are impacted by mountaintop removal (MTR) mining.  

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) commissioned the scientists to review a report prepared by CHEJ that analyzed the existing body of peer-reviewed, scientific studies on the impacts of MTR coal mining on human health. That review led to the recommendations released this week.

“The evidence shows that mountaintop removal threatens public health and the environment. It’s time to act to protect rural communities,” said commission member Dr. Steven B. Wing, PhD. Wing is associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina.

“Corporate leaders, local, state and national policy makers need to pay attention to the information in this report,” said Dr. Jerome A. Paulson, professor of Pediatrics & Public Health at George Washington University, another commission member. “The protection of human health needs to be a higher priority than it has been in the past. A moratorium is an appropriate step until such time as those doing mountaintop removal can document that they can do it without significant harm to human health.”

The commission’s recommendations include placing an immediate moratorium on MTR mining until health studies have been conducted that provide a clearer understanding of the associations between adverse health impacts, notably adverse reproductive outcomes and MTR mining. In addition, during the moratorium period, appropriate safeguards including remediation and engineering controls should be implemented to mitigate air and water pollution related to MTR mining activities.

This recommendation could be addressed by passage of the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (ACHE Act, HR 526). This legislation would require the first comprehensive federal study of the health dangers of MTR coal mining and would place a moratorium on all new MTR mining permits while federal officials examine health consequences to surrounding communities.

Visit EcoWatch’s MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL page for more related news on this topic.

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