Earlier in April, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) introduced a bill to place a moratorium on mountaintop removal permitting until the government conducted health studies. Industry advocates labeled the bill as over-regulation. At the hearing, Rep. Yarmuth stated that no federal health study has examined mountaintop removal mining’s effect on nearby communities. He noted that the Trump administration halted one such study in 2017.
Donna Branham, a lifetime resident of Mingo County, W.V.a, lives roughly 1,500 feet from a 1,300-acre strip mine.
“During my job as a nurse, I would see the adverse health effects caused by irresponsible mining,” she told the committee. “Retired miners gasping for every breath, painful joints, increased cancer rates.”
Carl Shoupe, a former coal miner and a member of nonprofit grassroots community organization Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, lives in Benham, Ky. Shoupe and three other area residents are petitioning to the state to declare 10,000 acres surrounding the Kentucky towns of Benham and Lynch as unsuitable for mining.
“As we speak, a coal company is seeking a permit to strip mine the ridge behind my home,” Shoupe said during his testimony. “They plan to go up the entire valley. If that happens, it will endanger our health, safety, peace of mind, property, tourism economy, drinking water, and hope for the future.”