In New Letter, Chair Grijalva and Subcommittee Chair Lowenthal Press Acting Secretary Bernhardt for Documents on Canceling Mining Health Impact Study

Washington, D.C. – In a new letter sent today, Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), the chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, ask Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt for documents, communications, and other information on the 2017 cancellation of a National Academy of Sciences study on the health impacts of mountaintop removal mining. Department of the Interior (DOI) officials initially billed the cancellation as part of a larger budgetary review of contracts and cooperative agreements – an explanation that later turned out to be false.

Today’s letter follows requests for documents on this same issue that Grijalva and other lawmakers sent on Aug. 25 and Oct. 17 of 2017, neither of which received a substantive DOI response.

The DOI inspector general found in June of 2018 that the study was canceled without a clear reason and that DOI never conducted the purported budgetary review of contracts and agreements. As Reuters reported at the time:

When the Interior Department was asked by the inspector general to detail the reasons for its decision to cancel the study, it could not produce any evidence of a formal review, the watchdog said in its report.

“Departmental officials were unable to provide specific criteria used for their determination whether to allow or cease certain grants and cooperative agreements,” the report said. It added the cancellation “wasted” some $455,110 that had already been spent on research and that the remaining $548,443 would be returned to the Treasury in 2021.

Today’s letter, which lays out the full list of documents being sought – including conversations between DOI and “any coal company or coal industry group” on the study or its cancellation – is available at http://bit.ly/2DsmnI9.

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