By Kimber Ray
West Virginia’s Bureau of Public Health announced in March that the agency will begin working with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate existing research that links surface coal mining and poor health.
The announcement came from the health agency’s commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta one week after Randy Huffman, secretary of the DEP, also asserted that such studies should be examined. Many citizen and environmental groups have previously expressed frustration with the state’s failure to acknowledge the significance of this research.
Currently under dispute are a series of studies co-authored by Dr. Michael Hendryx, a professor at West Virginia University from 2006 to 2013. The coal industry has previously challenged efforts to submit his findings as evidence of the potential impacts of new surface mining permits.
Gupta plans to partner with federal agencies to conduct the research review. No timeline has yet been proposed for the project.