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Rainforest Action Network Supports Appalachian Health Emergency Act

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Bill introduced in US House to address health crisis and halt new mountaintop removal mining
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC—Today lawmakers in the US House of Representatives introduced the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (ACHE Act, HR 526) to protect Appalachian families and communities from the nation’s most extreme form of coal mining, mountaintop removal.

If passed, the legislation would seize permitting of new mountaintop removal mining operations until federal agencies could provide a determination that the coal mining practice would not harm the health of local residents. Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has worked to end the extraction method since 2006.

“Rainforest Action Network supports the swift passage of the ACHE Act,” said Amanda Starbuck, RAN’s Energy and Finance Program Director. “For the communities and ecosystems of Appalachia, it is time to put a stop to mountaintop removal mining, once and for all.”

The ACHE Act was authored by residents from communities impacted by mountaintop removal in response to findings in more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific studies that illustrate dramatic health impacts for people living nearby coal mining operations. Startling data published on the Appalachian Community Health Emergency website reveals elevated rates of mortality, cancer, diseases and birth defects in coal-mining regions of Appalachia, when compared to areas without the industry.

Since 2006, RAN has exposed the negative effects of mountaintop removal coal mining, including impacts to communities’ health and threats to the ecosystems of Appalachia. RAN targets big banks including Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to demand an end to financing of coal companies engaged in the practice. In 2009 and 2010, RAN campaigned against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop the practice altogether.    

The ACHE Act would direct Federal agencies to conduct air and water quality monitoring, prepare comprehensive health impact studies and publish a determination on health impacts for people living near where mining occurs. In addition, an immediate moratorium on mountaintop removal mining would be set, barring any new permits to be issued until health concerns are alleviated.

The ACHE Act’s leading sponsors are Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), joined by original co-sponsors  Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Janice Schakowksy (D-IL), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org

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