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Fri Feb 8, 2013, 05:33 PM

Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act back in Congress

Reps. Yarmuth, Slaughter Introduce Bill to Study Health Consequences of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Wednesday February 06, 2013
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25) introduced the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (H.R. 526), legislation that would require the first comprehensive federal study of the health dangers of mountaintop removal coal mining. The legislation would place a moratorium on all new mountaintop removal mining permits while federal officials examine health consequences to surrounding communities.

“Mountaintop removal coal mining destroys entire ecosystems and contaminates the water supplies in mining communities, making people sick and jeopardizing their safety,” said Congressman Yarmuth. “This legislation will provide families in these communities the answers they need and the protection they deserve. If it can’t be proven that mountaintop removal mining is safe, we shouldn’t allow it to continue.”

“Every American has a right to live and work in a community free from environmental health risks,” said Congresswoman Slaughter, a native of Harlan County, Ky. “And it is our duty to ensure that this right is not infringed upon by industries that consider community health and environmental protection to be less important than their profit margins. Given the growing field of evidence that people living near mountaintop removal coal mining sites are at an elevated risk for a range of major health problems, we should place a moratorium on further mountaintop coal removal activity until we can ensure the health and safety of families in these communities.”

In mountaintop removal mining operations, coal companies use heavy machinery and explosives to remove the upper levels of mountains to more easily access the coal seams beneath. They dispose of the waste in adjacent valleys. Mine waste pollution – including dangerous heavy metals such as selenium and sulfate – often contaminates or buries waterways in the valleys.

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