Mining Activity in Mat-Su Community Now Off Limits Unless a New Permit Is Issued
From: Castle Mountain Coalition, The Alaska Center, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Cook Inletkeeper, Sierra Club
Jan. 18, 2017, SUTTON, AK – Matanuska-Susitna Valley residents commend the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) for ordering a federal inspection of unpermitted coal mining operations by Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc. for its Wishbone Hill coal strip mine. The decision comes after the State of Alaska argued that it had implicitly extended the permits for over two decades, an argument that has been rejected multiple times.
The mine was granted a permit in 1991. Since then, the community’s population has more than doubled and several new neighborhoods have been developed within a mile of the coal strip mine. Area residents say the mine will pollute the air with coal dust and bring intense road traffic.
“I moved to the Valley so I could raise my children in a spectacular community and place, with clean mountain air and water” said Amy O’Connor, a resident in the Palmer area. “This decision acknowledges that a lot has changed in the Mat-Su and that the growing population and strong communities should have the means to protect our families, our favorite places and quality of life.”
The OSM’s decision aligns with a July Court ruling concluding that the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) states that a permit expires if a company doesn’t start mining within three years or within a validly-granted extension period. Usibelli received its permit in 1991, but did not begin operations until 2010.
The OSM decision means that OSM may take an enforcement action to stop unpermitted coal mining.
People available to comment on the decision:
Brook Brisson, Trustees for Alaska (907) 433-2012
Counsel for Castle Mountain Coalition, The Alaska Center, Alaska Community Action on
Toxics, Cook Inletkeeper, and the Sierra Club
Amy O’Connor, Palmer resident (907) 793-8640
Trustees for Alaska, a non-profit public interest environmental law firm, represents the Castle
Mountain Coalition, The Alaska Center, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Cook Inletkeeper,
and the Sierra Club.