A new study says that mountaintop removal can harm the people in those communities. The study is called "Personal and Family Health in Rural Areas of Kentucky With and Without Mountaintop Coal Mining. It is by Dr. Michael Hendryx of the Department of Health Policy, Management and Leadership at West Virginia University.
He says mountaintop removal causes more illness in those community than communities without mountaintop removal. The president of the Kentucky Coal Association, Bill Bissett, says, "While Dr. Hendryx is not a medical doctor, he is a researcher who begins his research with a bias against coal and its extraction. This bias is further revealed through his coordination with and the support of anti-coal groups such as the KFTC. While I have not read this new publication, I have read his past work. In the past, Hendryx has used information gained through telephone interviews instead of medical records or actual examinations. While the challenges facing Appalachians and their health are well documented, Hendryx's work seems more connected to political expediency than substance. "
Representative Greg Stumbo agrees with Bissett.
"Some of the diseases that I think he speaks of in the study are prominent in Eastern Kentucky. But I don't believe it's because of mining. Unfortunately we have traditionally had poor diet habits and tobacco use is fairly significant in our areas."
Mickey McCoy and his wife are team members on the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (A.C.H.E.), a group that wants the federal government to look at various studies, including Dr. Hendryx's study, before making a decision to continue having new surface mines. They say they know six people in Inez who had to lose kidneys.
"Too many people are getting sick. Too many people are dying," Mickey McCoy said.
"I really cannot respect anybody who puts personal profit as in the coal companies profit above peoples' health," said Nina McCoy.
Representative Stumbo says mountaintop removal also provides flat land above the flood plane, allowing things like the Big Sandy Regional Airport to exist.
For information about the A.C.H.E. Act, visit www.acheact.org