Today U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (H.R. 526) in an effort to protect families and people across Appalachia from harmful impacts of an extreme form of coal mining called mountaintop removal mining. In mountaintop removal mining, explosives are used to blast apart mountaintops and extract coal, and the remaining rubble and waste is dumped into the streams and valleys below.
More than 20 recent peer-reviewed scientific studies have revealed shocking correlations between this extreme form of mining and the poor health of the people living closest to it. People in areas closest to mountaintop removal have significantly higher rates of birth defects, major diseases, cancer, and early mortality than people living elsewhere in Appalachia. The Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act would require comprehensive studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining on the surrounding communities, and freeze new mountaintop removal permits until those studies are conducted.
“We commend Representatives Yarmuth and Slaughter for standing up for the people living near mountaintop removal mining sites in Appalachia who have been pleading for help, and for leading this effort to protect the lives and health of Appalachian communities,” said Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation Marty Hayden. “It is time to put public health ahead of King Coal’s greed and pass this common-sense measure. We also applaud our Appalachian partners, the mountain heroes who have been tirelessly advocating for their communities and families in Washington even while suffering the impacts of mountaintop removal back at home in Appalachia.”
“With increasing evidence of health damage for those who live near mountaintop removal mining sites, people living in Appalachia desperately need Representatives Yarmuth and Slaughter’s bill to pass,” said Sierra Club environmental quality director Ed Hopkins. “It’s long past time for Congress to take action to protect Appalachian families. We thank all the sponsors of this bill for working for the well-being of the people at a time when far too many of their colleagues would rather protect powerful corporate special interests.”