West Virginia to involve Kentucky in examination of studies that link health problems to mountaintop-removal coal mining

Kentucky Health News

The administration of Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia “said Tuesday that it would initiate an evaluation of the growing body of studies that have found residents living near mountaintop removal coal-mining operations face increases risks of serious illnesses and premature death,” Ken Ward Jr. reports for The Charleston Gazette. Studies have found correlations between mountaintop removal and cancer, birth defects and the endangerment of freshwater species.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of the state Bureau for Public Health, “said that his agency would work with the state Department of Environmental Protection to examine the issue and to seek help from various federal scientific and regulatory agencies to review existing research on the subject,” Ward writes. “The analysis is something that is needed going forward,” Gupta said. “The bottom line here is to let science speak for itself. It’s time that we attempt to do that.”

“Gupta said that his plan would ‘engage surrounding states’ such as Kentucky and Virginia to ‘evaluate the scientific research being conducted by academia, non-profit groups, and others with an emphasis on peer-reviewed research to better understand the issues,'” Ward writes. “Also, Gupta said, his agency would work with the DEP to ask ‘federal partners’—such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, and National Institutes of Health, and the federal Office of Surface Mining—to ‘seek relevant subject matter expertise allowing for the exploration of a federal-state, multi-agency partnership to conduct analysis of the existing research in the field.'” (Read more)

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