Coal Tattoo

Well, at least Rep. Nick Rahall was willing to take questions about the growing pile of studies that raise serious questions about mountaintop removal coal mining’s impacts on the health of coalfield residents (See here and here).

Because gosh, Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., are just too darned busy to be bothered with the topic.

On Friday, I asked publicists for both senators if I could get a few minutes on the phone anytime this week with their bosses for interviews about the studies, especially the recent one that found higher risk of birth defects among folks living near mountaintop removal operations.

Vincent Morris, a spokesman for Sen. Rockefeller, told me:

I doubt we can make it happen,  Ken. Another time.

Emily Bittner, Sen. Manchin’s spokeswoman, said:

Hey, Ken – sorry, but I don’t think there’s time in the schedule. Will let you know if that changes.

While the senators were busy with other things — and keeping their distance from mountaintop removal’s possible impacts on public health — Michael Hendryx from West Virginia University had published another study. This one found that folks living near the mountaintop removal operations along the Coal River Valley suffer from higher cancer rates than folks who don’t live near large-scale surface mining …