One has to wonder if folks in Appalachia, a majority of those having supported Trump, now have voter’s remorse.
Trump’s Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, has halted a scientific study on the risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining, according to the New York Times.
Mountaintop removal, which has occurred on at least 500 Appalachian mountains, has clogged streams and waterways with heavy metals such as selenium and manganese, which can be toxic in high concentrations. The dust kicked up by these explosions is also considered a hazard.
We know Trump and Zinke love coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels and a major contributor to global warming. They also don’t care about the health consequences associated with the mining of coal. They’re in good company with coal lobbyists.
Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association, said the decision to halt the study may have been justified.
“The National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences concluded in July that after examining available studies, it didn’t see evidence justifying a health hazard, noting that no conclusive evidence connected mountaintop mining with health effects and that studies often failed to account for extraneous health and lifestyle effects,” he said.
Pay no attention to the increased lung cancer, heart and kidney disease, and birth defects that plague West Virginia. As Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources said:
“Stopping this study is a ploy to stop science in its tracks and keep the public in the dark about health risks as a favor to the mining industry, pure and simple.”
Mountaintop removal — “strip mining on steroids” — is devastating Appalahcia. From Earth Justice:
Coal companies first raze an entire mountainside, ripping trees from the ground and clearing brush with huge tractors. This debris is then set ablaze as deep holes are dug for explosives.
An explosive is poured into these holes and mountaintops are literally blown apart. Huge machines called draglines—some the size of an entire city block, able to scoop up to 100 tons in a single load—push rock and dirt into nearby streams and valleys, forever burying waterways.
Coal companies use explosives to blast as much as 800 to 1,000 feet off the tops of mountains in order to reach thin coal seams buried deep below
Zinke’s geology professors at the University of Oregon must be face-palming over their student’s abrogation of science. Zinke supported Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, he has suspended nearly 200 advisory boards and continues to stump for coal.
And when he gets back from his Mediterranean vacation, having ignored the fires that are ravaging Montana, he’ll let us know which national monuments he intends to despoil.