Donald Trump accused of suppressing coal health risks
One of the world’s leading scientific journals has accused Donald Trump of suppressing a major report on the health risks of coal mining.
A $1m study by the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine of the health effects of so-called “mountain-top removal” coal mining, in which the surface of the land is scraped away, was cancelled by the Department of the Interior.
An editorial in the highly-respected journal Nature questioned the reasoning for the decision, saying the Trump administration might seek to cancel other research it does not like.
“The DoI’s assertion that the decision is a budgetary one is suspect, especially given that the study has already spent a good amount of its budget,” the article said. “It seems, instead, that the government would rather quash the review than risk it producing results that cast aspersions on the coal industry.”
Trump made reviving America’s ailing coal industry one of his central campaign pledges in a bid to return economic growth to the rust-belt region, whose states were crucial to him getting elected.
However, his stance on climate change, which he has called a “hoax”, and environmental protections has put him on a collision course with green activists and scientists.
At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston in February, chief executive Dr Rush Holt expressed fears that ideology would become more important than evidence under a Trump Presidency.
Raising comparisons with the Soviet Union, “where scientists were led to believe things that just weren’t so for political reasons”, he warned that “when officials use the phrase ‘alternative facts’ without embarrassment, we know there’s a problem”.