Thursday, May 17, 2012

Usibelli Coal Agrees to Suspend Wishbone Hill Operations

Yesterday, as a result of intense negotiations between attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendant, Federal District Court Judge John Sedwick issued the following order:

Pursuant to the stipulation of the parties, it is hereby ORDERED:

1.    Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc. (Usibelli) will not conduct surface coal mining operations (as defined in AS 27.21.998(17)) under permits 01-89-796 and 02-89-796 at Wishbone Hill (except for any reclamation activities required by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, or any best management practices required under the stormwater permit) without 30 days prior written notice to plaintiffs’ counsel and without filing such notice with the Court.

2.    Plaintiffs, Friends of Mat-Su et al., (collectively referred to as “FoMS”)’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. 9) is stayed until such time as Usibelli provides the written notice described in paragraph 1. Concurrent with providing FoMS and the Court with the written notice described in paragraph 1, Usibelli shall file its opposition to FoMS’ motion for preliminary injunction. FoMS may file a reply in accordance with the local rules.

3.    The parties may jointly request the Court’s expedited consideration of FoMS’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction, following completion of briefing.

DATED this 15th day of May 2012.
Friends of Mat-Su Executive Director Jeremiah Millen states:
Usabelli will not be allowed to conduct any surface coal mining operations while the briefing of the case moves forward.  This includes activities related to road building, topsoil or overburden removal, etc.

If Usibelli changes its mind, it must give 30 days notice of intent to re-commence operations, and reply to our motion for a preliminary injunction.
Speaking for all the plaintiffs, Millen states further:
We believe that Usibelli Coal Company continues to operate without a valid permit at Wishbone Hill. If allowed to move forward, Wishbone hill will result in negative impacts to local residents, property values, fish and wildlife habitat and overall quality of life throughout the valley.  We are encouraged by this decision which guarantee that the interests of the public remain protected while our concerns about the validity of the permit is properly addressed.
[note:  Philip Munger is secretary of the Board of Directors for Friends of Mat-Su]

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