Trump admin halts study on the health effects of mountaintop-removal mining

The U.S. Department of the Interior has sent a troubling letter to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine: The independent research institution must "cease all work" on the potential health risks faced by people living near surface coal-mining sites in Appalachia.

Mountaintop removal is a type of coal mining that blasts the tops off peaks, buries streams in debris, and can lead to toxic runoff. After previous research found links between the practice and increased risks for birth defects, cancer, and premature death in nearby communities, the Interior Department granted $1 million to the study last year. Now that President Trump has proposed a $1.6 billion budget cut to the department, it says it will be reviewing all grants over $100,000. "I'd like to think this is a temporary suspension of the project for a routine review and that it will soon recontinue, but I have my doubts," Michael Hendryx, a researcher who has studied the issue extensively, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. "We know the current administration is anti-science and pro-coal, so you have to wonder if it is politically motivated."

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