Thursday, February 07, 2013

Bill would make mountaintop-removal permits wait on comprehensive study of health effects

Two House Democrats introduced a bill today that would put a moratorium on new mountaintop-removal mining permits. The sponsors are Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, the only Democrat in Kentucky's congressional delegation, and Rep. Louise Slaughter of Rochester, N.Y., a native of southeastern Kentucky's Harlan County and a biologist by trade. Their Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (H.R. 526) would block new permits until federal officials conducted the first comprehensive federal study on the effect of mountaintop removal on the health of residents in the mining areas of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Here is a copy of the legislation.

Though the bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the Republican-controlled House, Slaughter cited "the growing field of evidence that people living near mountaintop removal coal mining sites are at an elevated risk for a range of major health problems," including a study conducted in part by Michael Hendryx, a West Virginia University health researcher. It found that communities near mountaintop-removal mining sites had higher levels of birth defects. Another study found that communities near mountaintop removal coal mining sites had more problems with blood pressure, lung cancer, pulmonary disorders, and and lung, heart, and kidney diseases. For more on Hendryx and his research, click here.

No comments: