Senator Markey, Colleagues Demand Information on Mountaintop Removal Mining Study Halted by the Department of the Interior


Washington (June 14, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force and a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, was today joined by his colleagues in calling on the Department of the Interior to provide detailed information about a halted National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) study on the health effects of living in close proximity to mountaintop removal (MTR) mining sites. The Senators’ letter comes after newly-released Interior Department emails and documents reveal that the halting of the study was politically motivated, and after the Interior Department’s Inspector General reported it could not justify the cancellation of the study for the reported reasons that it would yield no new findings. For the last two decades, the mining technique commonly referred to as mountaintop removal mining became increasingly prevalent in the Appalachian region. The NASEM study may potentially identify adverse health effects of mountaintop removal mining on residents in the Appalachian region.


“American families living around toxic sites in Appalachia need studies like the NASEM mountaintop removal project so that they can understand the health effects of mining activities in their communities, and they deserve prompt answers to these questions,” write the Senators in the letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


During MTR mining, the forests and topsoil on the top of the mountain are stripped away, and explosives are used to blast off the tops of the mountains to access the coal seams beneath, spilling toxins and chemicals into streams and onto buildings. Mountaintop removal mining has been linked to many devastating health effects, including higher rates of heart, lung and kidney disease, as well as cancer and birth defects.


Other Senators signing the letter include Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).