Usibelli Coal Mining Company Operating Without Valid Permit
Mat-Su Residents Ask Usibelli to Stop Operating Until the Company Obtains a Permit that Protects the Valley and Its Residents
Palmer, Alaska. In an effort to protect their families, their property, and the community, residents of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley sent a letter to Usibelli Coal Mining Company today asking them to stop operations at the Wishbone Hill site because the company does not have a coal mining permit.
“The development of the proposed Wishbone Hill coal mine will have lasting negative impacts on property values, air and water quality, wildlife, recreational access, public safety, and future economic opportunities for Mat-Su residents. A residential neighborhood is simply no place for a coal mine, ” said Jeremiah Millen of Friends of Mat-Su, a local planning organization representing residents across the Mat-Su Borough and a signatory of the letter.
According to the law, Usibelli does not have the necessary permit to mine at Wishbone Hill. However, since the summer of 2010, Usibelli has been engaged in illegal mining activity at Wishbone Hill. Residents hope the company will immediately stop all mining operations until it obtains a permit that ensures that the Valley and the community are protected. If Usibelli refuses to do so within the next sixty days, residents intend to go to court to protect themselves and the Mat-Su Valley.
“Usibelli Coal Company is not a good neighbor,” said Kirby Spangler, president of the Castle Mountain Coalition. “How can I trust a company that is mining without a permit? How can we be sure that they are protecting our water, wildlife, and community if they aren’t following the law?”
Many federal and state agencies have begun to question the accuracy of Usibelli’s permit applications. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation required Usibelli to resubmit their Air Quality Permit Application twice because of inaccurate information. In addition, the Federal Office of Surface Mining recently got more involved with the project.
This action comes of the heels of the Alaska Mental Health Trust selling about 11 square miles of land in Chickaloon to a massive Australian Mining company.
note - the author and proprietor of Progressive Alaska is a member of Cook Inletkeeper, and Secretary of the Board of Friends of Mat-Su