Monday, May 9, 2011

Palmer Coal Awareness Meeting Shows Growing Concern

Monday's public meeting in Palmer, hosted by the Mat Valley Coalition and Alaska Community Action on Toxics was mostly about health issues, which are scary enough to me. There were a lot of young couples there with their very young kids scampering around the Palmer train depot, where about 85 people listened to or participated in the events and presentations.

The centerpiece of the informational offerings was Dr. Michelle Prevost's new powerpoint lecture on coal and public health. It was the first time she has given this lecture. It should be the first of many.

She used a lot of statistics provided by Physicians for Social Responsibility. They are solid. After the event, I asked Dr. Prevost if there are local or Anchorage chapters of the organization. She doesn't think there are. I suggested she develop her powerful talk for many meetings around Palmer, Sutton and Wasilla. She might do that.

One of the problems with raising public awareness on health issues of coal development at the edge of the Mat-Su core is that our political infrastructure, with a few exceptions, has been taken over by the Teabaggers so well represented by pols like Wes Keller, Carl Gatto and Charlie Huggins. None of them could give a shit about public health. But people here do care about that. The pro-development side not only has ideological support from dimwits like Wes, Carl and Charlie, they're getting a lot of bucks from Usabelli, the mining company hoping to cripple our kids, grandkids, air, water and soil.

Big bucks.

Bucks talk. They not only talk to politicians only a resignation, election or indictment beyond Vic Kohring, Bev Masek and Scott Ogan, they talk to you and me; they talk to everyone here who owns property. And people here do care about how much their property is worth, even if they could give a flying fuck about why their next door neighbor's teenager has athsma, or the kid down the street is allergic to just about anything.

This from KTUU TV:
PALMER, Alaska— When it comes to buying or building a home, location is one of the major deciding factors. For the James family, they finally found the perfect location for their new home several miles north of Palmer on Buffalo Mine Road.

"We like it up here, it's remote enough but close enough to the cities where we can get to things," said Pamela James.

But the location of their new home has made it a little more difficult for them to borrow money to help pay for it. The Jameses were denied a construction loan, and they were told it was because their property is in close proximity to the proposed Wishbone Hill Coal Mine.

They are not the only ones to be denied. One of their neighbors was denied by Wells Fargo. In an email dated Feb. 24, the Home Mortgage Consultant stated "I was able to confirm that the property will not be eligible for financing with Wells Fargo due to the coal mine and it's proximity."

Another potential property owner was denied a loan through Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union because the cabin they were interested in was considered too close to the potential development.

"I understand the emotions on all sides of this thing," said Al Strawn the CEO of Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union. Strawn said that loan managers initially pinpointed the coal mine site, drew a one-mile radius and decided to not grant loans for properties within that area. Strawn said they have since changed their policy.

"This has been an evolving policy but today we are open for business to anybody that lives up in that area, for any of the properties, we are going to look at each of them on a case by case basis," Strawn said. "If it's very very close to the proposed development then we may have to discount the collateral value somewhat, but we're not going to just have a 'no loan' area," he added.
Trust me, once the mining operation gets going, those properties are going to decline in value very, very fast. And if you take Strawn at his word, I have a bridge to nowhere I think you might want to buy. It leads from Soapstone Road to central West Virginia, with no intervening stops.

Dr. Prevost:

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