Ranking Member Grijalva Calls for Accounting of Unallocated Research Money, Explanation of Canceled Coal Study in Letter to Zinke

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today called on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to explain the fate of approximately $400,000 in funding for a recently canceled study on the public health impacts of mountaintop removal mining, a destructive coal extraction process known to harm residents of Appalachian states. Grijalva points out in today’s letter, available at http://bit.ly/2gMuZ1C, that Trump administration officials have repeatedly refused to answer his and his staff’s questions about the study or where the appropriated funds have gone.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) – a part of the Department of the Interior (DOI) – ordered the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to cancel the study on Aug. 18 and has not explained what happened to the unspent funds Congress appropriated for it.

Because fiscal year 2017 ended on September 30, Grijalva writes, the Interior Department

must be able to provide an accounting of the remaining $400,000 at this time, yet it has refused to do so. If that money was spent elsewhere, the American people and Congress deserve to know where that money went. If the money was not spent elsewhere, the American people and Congress deserve to know why the Department chose to waste the $600,000 that had already been spent on this crucial public health study.

OSMRE told NAS that the study had to be canceled for budget reasons as part of a DOI review of contracts of more than $100,000. Grijalva highlights that no other studies have been canceled as part of this alleged review, calling the true motivation for canceling the study into question.

“Cutting off funding for a scientific study because it will likely produce uncomfortable results for powerful administration allies is unconscionable, especially when these political games are affecting public health,” Grijalva writes. “Sadly, as we have seen so far this year, this administration routinely suppresses science that doesn’t agree with its ideology.”

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