Coal Tattoo

Democratic platform opposes mountaintop removal

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A story is making the rounds today that brings the focus back again to the potential public health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining.  Writing for The Conversation website, Roberta Attanasio, a Georgia State University biologist, explains:

The U.S. coal industry is in rapid decline, a shift marked not only by the bankruptcy of many mine operators in coal-rich Appalachia but also by a legacy of potential environmental and social disasters.

As mines close, states, the federal government and taxpayers are left wondering about the costs of cleaning up the abandoned land, especially at mountaintop removal sites, the most destructive type of mining. As coal companies go bankrupt, this has left states concerned taxpayers may have to pick up the environmental cleanup costs.

But there are also societal costs related to mountaintop removal mining’s impact on health and mental health. As an immunologist, I reviewed the research literature for specific effects of mountaintop removal mining on the immune system. I did not identify any pertinent information. However, I did find plenty of clues suggesting that health and mental health issues will pose enormous challenges to the affected coal communities, and will linger for decades.

At the same time, a press release from the Alliance for Appalachia pointed out something to me that I wasn’t aware of — this language from the Democratic Party platform: