MAC: Mines and Communities

Two Industry Connected Appointees Off Coal Waste Committee

Published by MAC on 2004-11-15

Two Industry Connected Appointees Off Coal Waste Committee

Environmental News Service (ENS)

November 15, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC - Citizen groups who protested the conflicts of interest of several appointees to the National Academy of Sciences' committee studying the health effects of Mine Placement of Coal Combustion Wastes welcomed Friday's announcement that two committee members with industry connections are off the panel.

Coal industry lobbyist Edward Green is no longer a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee and Dr. Patricia Buffler, who consults for the Electric Power Research Institute, has resigned.

"It's imperative that this committee, which will evaluate the harm this practice is doing to coal field communities across the nation, carry out its mission in an open and unbiased way," said Lisa Evans, senior attorney for the Clean Air Task Force.

On October 26, 42 citizen groups wrote to National Academy President Bruce Alberts protesting the conflicts of interest and lack of balance on the Mine Placement of Coal Combustion Wastes study committee.

The committee was commissioned by Congress to study the health effects of this practice, and comes under the rules of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. This law precludes professionals with conflicts of interest from serving on federal advisory committees and requires that panels be balanced with regard to points of view expressed.

"To improve the panel's make up and comply with federal law, the NAS must add scientists who acknowledge the environmental damage resulting from the dumping of coal combustion waste in mines," Evans said. "There are still four committee members with direct conflicts of interest and other ties to the coal and utility industries."

"We're glad the NAS moved quickly to correct two flaws in the panel's make up," said Merrill Goozner, director of the Integrity in Science project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit health advocacy group.

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