When he moved to West Virginia in 2006, Hendryx heard health concerns from coal field residents and sought existing research on the issue. When he couldn’t find any, he decided to do his own.
A Public Health Report he co-authored in 2009 found societal and health costs of coal mining in the central Appalachian region are roughly five times the economic benefits – about $42 billion in costs associated with premature deaths to about $8 billion in direct and indirect economic benefits.
Hendryx is frustrated when his research is greeted with inaction by public policymakers.
“It’s only an economic benefit to a small number of people who profit from it and for the politicians who get re-elected from it,” Hendryx said.
“I think we know enough about this to act upon it – to eliminate mountaintop removal. The impact it has on health is not worth the gains.”