Tobias writes: "Emails obtained through a FOIA request show that Katharine MacGregor had a hand in ensuring the health study's cancellation. Indeed, she appears to have been keenly interested in the matter." She wrote the OSM director Aug. 17: "I thought you told me on the phone that this was postponed?" The next day, OSM suspended the work.
“This is the very essence of what we mean when we describe Appalachia as a sacrifice zone,” said Bob Kincaid, president of Coal River Mountain Watch, a group fighting mountaintop-removal mining. Bo Webb, coordinator of the Appalachian Community Health Emergency campaign, which helped prompt West Virginia officials to ask for the study, said in the same press release, "It’s clear now that canceling this study was a gift to the coal industry.."
The evidence is circumstantial, but Tobias sees a broader trend in MacGregor's calendars: At the same time she held a mere handful of meetings—fewer than 10, according to my tally—with conservation organizations like The Wilderness Society and Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters." The calendar sshow that she "appears to have a habit of meeting repeatedly with industries and organizations that later receive favorable treatment from agencies she helps oversee," Tobias writes. An Interior spokesperson told him MacGregor is "happy to make time to meet with whomever requests a meeting," including conservation groups. "We have always welcomed input from all citizens and will continue to listen to ideas and concerns from anyone interested in sharing them."