Before axing a health study on mining, the DOI met with a bunch of coal companies. (Coincidence, we’re sure.)

Credit: Jim West/Alamy

Last August, the U.S. Department of the Interior suddenly called off a study on the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining with little explanation as to why. Turns out, in the months prior, a top Interior official named Katharine MacGregor met at least six times with representatives from the country's biggest coal-mining companies. According to recently released documents and schedules, MacGregor actively pushed for the study’s cancellation after meeting with companies like Arch Coal, which practices mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. The process uses explosives to extract coal from mountaintops and ridgelines—resulting in polluted rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. When asked the reason behind the cancellation, the Interior Department said the “duplicative” research was wasting money that could otherwise go to “securing public lands along the U.S.-Mexico border.” So, the Interior is swapping our mountains—and health—for an offensive wall.

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