In May, the state Department of Public Health issued a warning about the “dangerous” lung cancer risk posed by coal miners.
It was based on data that showed that miners in Appalachia were more than four times as likely to die from lung cancer as miners in other parts of the country.
In November, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that coal miners living in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee are at higher risk of lung cancer than miners in the rest of the US.
The CDC also said that coal mining has been linked to a higher risk for cancers of the pancreas, endometrium and uterus, and a higher likelihood of developing certain cancers of other organs, including lung, bladder and prostate.
And in April, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft rule to regulate coal mining operations that would require companies to put more coal ash on the ground and to provide public health assurances about the health impacts of coal dust.
A draft of the rule was leaked to journalists and released by the American Lung Association (ALA), which called the draft “shameful” and said it “should be rescinded”.
EPA is set to announce its final draft on Monday.
The draft rules have been criticised by the Sierra Club, the American Cancer Society, the Sierra Nevada Corporation, the New York State Nurses Association, the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups.
The EPA has proposed new regulations that could make it harder for coal companies to operate in areas with inadequate air quality, such as New York, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Wyoming.
In addition, the draft rule would also require coal mines to make more noise, which the EPA says would be detrimental to people breathing in coal dust, especially if it leads to noise pollution.
But the draft regulations have been rejected by the coal industry, which has said that they will be too expensive and will not do enough to combat climate change.