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Top Research Journal Rips Trump for Shutdown of Coal-health Study

Image: Top Research Journal Rips Trump for Shutdown of Coal-health Study
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By    |   Thursday, 31 August 2017 01:01 PM

A prestigious science journal has accused President Donald Trump of folding a $1 million study about the potential health risks of living near coal mining regions of Central Appalachia.

The journal Nature says research by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) was halted two weeks ago by Department of the Interior (DOI), which commissioned it in 2016 to study the coal regions of West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and North Carolina.

"This is the first time that the administration of President Donald Trump has canceled a NASEM study that has already started — a move that has rarely happened in the past, according to the academies," Nature said in an editorial published Wednesday.

"In its statement about the cancellation, the NASEM said that its investigators 'stand ready' to resume as soon as the DOI completes its review. But they're likely to be waiting a long time.

"The Trump administration has made no secret of its fondness for the U.S. coal industry . . . The DOI's assertion that the decision is a budgetary one is suspect, especially given that the study has already spent a good amount of its budget."

Nature, founded in 1869 and publishing original scientific research read by millions worldwide, said it appears the federal government "would rather quash the review than risk it producing results that cast aspersions" on the coal industry.

"This is par for the course for the DOI, whose head, Ryan Zinke, plans to downsize national parks in favor of resource extraction, and which has also suspended meetings with its independent advisory councils on issues concerning public lands," Nature said.

"With the near-daily news about the Trump administration weakening climate and environmental protections, it is easy to become fatigued. Yet the move to pre-empt the prestigious and independent NASEM is particularly concerning.

"It raises questions about what other studies could be canceled if the government fears their results. It is another blow for science and for academic freedom."

The study was looking at potential health risks of surface coal mining — such as lung cancer and birth defects.

NASEM officials said they received a letter from the DOI's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation last Friday ordering the private, nonprofit group to cease all work by an 11-member committee.

"The letter states that the Department has begun an agency-wide review of its grants and cooperative agreements in excess of $100,000, largely as a result of the Department's changing budget situation," NASEM said in a statement.

"The National Academies believes this is an important study and we stand ready to resume it as soon as the Department of the Interior review is completed. We are grateful to our committee members for their dedication to carrying forward with this study."

NASEM — which operates under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences signed by President Abraham Lincoln — says it provides "independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine."

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A prestigious science journal has accused President Donald Trump of folding a $1 million study about the potential health risks of living near coal mining regions of Central Appalachia.
mining, coal, study, health, donald trump, nature science journal
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2017-01-31
Thursday, 31 August 2017 01:01 PM
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