DOI official met w/ lobbyists, then cancelled study of health effects of strip-mining

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Pacific Standard has revealed that an administrator at the Department of the Interior, Katharine MacGregor, met multiple times with lobbyists and officials from the energy industry in 2017, then proceeded to cancel a study of the health effects of strip-mining.

From the story:

A review of MacGregor’s work calendar, which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, shows a large number of meetings with fossil fuel firms, industry lobbyists, and other commercial interests during her first year in office. According to her calendar, MacGregor met well over 100 times with extractive industry groups or representatives between January of 2017 and January of 2018. At the same time she held a mere handful of meetings—fewer than 10, according to my tally—with conservation organizations like The Wilderness Society and Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters. Some of MacGregor’s meetings, moreover, involved industries and organizations that later benefited directly from decisions made by agencies under her purview. …

MacGregor’s behind-the-scenes influence comes through clearly in the DOI’s controversial decision to abruptly halt and ultimately cancel an important government-funded public-health study in Appalachia last year.

Back in 2016, the Obama administration asked the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine to initiate an independent evaluation of the health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. It hoped to explore the risks posed to humans by that particularly extreme form of strip mining. Not long after taking office, however, Trump’s Department of the Interior decided to scrap the research. Last August, the DOI’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement sent the National Academies a letter ordering the group to “cease all activities” related to the study.

Go read the entire story. It’s good reporting by Pacific Standard, and yet another example of corporations controlling our government and its policies.

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