Mine study makes sense

For eight years, it seemed as if then-President Barack Obama had unleashed every weapon in the bureaucracy’s arsenal against the coal mining industry. Then, Obama invented some new tools to harass coal country.

In that context, President Donald Trump’s plan to roll back the regulatory assault on coal and affordable electricity makes sense. But some federal initiatives on mining make sense.

One is a proposed $1 million study on the health effects of living near a surface mine. The Interior Department had planned to have the research conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

But now, officials at the National Academies are being told to shelve the study. Budget considerations have been cited.

Indeed, the government needs to stop spending money like a drunken sailor. But this could be an important study — and it is not one commissioned in an attempt to harm the coal industry. It was actually requested by West Virginia officials in 2015.

A scientific, objective study could balance claims by some environmental radicals that people living near any coal mine are at risk. If not, we ought to know it. And if the claims have any basis in fact, we ought to know that, too.

Trump should allow the study to proceed. Getting at the truth is important.

By Patricia Older

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