This just in from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement:
At the request of the State of West Virginia, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) will fund an independent examination of existing research concerning the potential correlation between increased human health risks and living near surface coal mine sites in Central Appalachia. The $1 million study will be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) over a two-year period.
You can read the full press release here.
This announcement by OSM (which has otherwise ignored the growing concerns about human health effects of large-scale strip mining) comes more than a year after agency director Joe Pizarchik and his boss, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, promised to try to put together this sort of scientific review.
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman kind of triggered a lot of this, after he said publicly that the growing body of peer-reviewed science on the topic deserved a closer look by regulators. Huffman and state Public Health Commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta then announced a state review of the science, and asked federal officials for assistance.