Department of Interior Halts Study on Health Risks of Coal
What Happened: On August 18, 2017, the Department of Interior (DOI) ordered the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to cease all work on a study examining potential health risks for people living near surface coal mining sites in the Appalachian Mountains. The study was originally requested by two West Virginia agencies. While DOI claimed that it was halting and reviewing all studies in excess of $100,000, this study seems to be the only one currently halted.
Why it Matters: Academy studies are commissioned to review and evaluate the scientific evidence on critical issues that are sometimes politically contentious. The reports provide advice that policymakers often use to make better science-based public health and safety policies. By halting this study, DOI is both putting lives at stake by refusing to even examine the situation as well as setting a troubling precedent for other critical public health studies.