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More Birth Defects Seen in Mountaintop Mine Areas

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A new study shows birth defects are higher in, and around, central Appalachian areas near coal mining sites, reported the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. The study’s author reviewed data from the National Center of Health Statistics birth defect records from 1996 through 2003 in four states. The collected information revealed elevated rates from mountaintop mining areas in six of seven birth defects studied. The study was published in the Environmental Research journal by co-author Michael Hendryx, an associate professor

in the Department of Community Medicine in West Virginia University. The study corresponds with legislation soon-to-be considered by the U.S. Senate. If made into a law, HR 2018 would weaken the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) provisions that protect stream quality; therefore, allowing states to regulate the waters, reported the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. The CWA was enacted 1948 as a method to regulate the discharge of pollutants into U.S. waters, and allows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. The bill, also known as the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011,” was introduced on May 26, and sponsored by Reps. John Mica (R-Fla.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.). According to opponents of the measure, HR 2018 will dismantle the Act by preventing the EPA from ensuring that states are properly setting clean water standards and enforcing them. On Wednesday, the House approved the measure by a 239-184 vote. To become a law, the bill must pass the Senate and receive approval from the president.

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