Stop wasting money on projects that make bad economic sense & threaten our health.
Do you want an Alaska that balances responsible development with protecting our health, our communities and our environment? Or do you want a state that gives handouts to single companies at the expense of Alaskans’ safety and health? Our state legislature is now considering yet another huge subsidy for the coal industry, which in Alaska is dominated by Usibelli and its subsidiaries. The Mat-Su Borough is asking the State for millions to build a railroad extension from Houston to Port MacKenzie. Freight hauled on this $300 million rail extension would be coal from Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc. to export our coal resources to power plants in Asia. That coal will come back to Alaska as mercury once it is burned. (ACAT Factsheet: Mercury & Your Health)
Write today to ask your legislator to remove funding for the Port MacKenzie Rail Extension from the Capital budget.
For people living along coal transportation routes, health threats include respiratory and cardiovascular system effects from exposure to harmful air pollutants. Trains and trucks hauling coal release toxic air pollutants, including nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, primarily through diesel exhaust. These pollutants are associated with infant mortality, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), ischemic stroke, worsening of asthma, and lung cancer. (ACAT Factsheet: Community Health Impacts of Coal Mining & Transportation)
Your call or email could make all the difference!
Coal trains, trucks, and loading and unloading at stockpiles releases coal dust into the air, which degrades air quality and exposes nearby communities to dust inhalation. Anchorage is just two miles from proposed stockpiles of coal at Port MacKenzie. Exposure to coal dust causes increased asthma in children. A wide range of health problems is associated with exposure to heavy metals such as lead, selenium, and mercury that may be present in coal dust. Depending on the chemical composition, coal dust may be carcinogenic. The Seward coal loading facility releases an estimated 500 pounds of coal dust every year into the air, water, and local community—do we want to breathe coal dust blown over from Port MacKenzie?
Not only will the Port Mac Rail Extension project waste hundreds of millions of dollars of public money on unhealthy, irresponsible development, it will also support other ill-considered projects in the Mat-Su totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.
- Million dollar 2nd office: Don’t forget the ferry terminal building which has been sitting virtually unused for years. Who will ever see the already built inlaid jade floors or the stuffed animals, only the Port Director who uses it as his 7,000 square foot second office. (Note: the caption on this photo link is wrong, the building was built years ago!)
- $20.4 million – Port with no boats: Only a dozen boats have docked at Port MacKenzie in over a decade: a multi-million dollar project which needs expansion and many millions more to operate.Who knows how many millions more are needed still?
- $80 million – Ferry with nowhere to go: The M/V Susitna is a navy designed prototype of a fast-moving shore-landing craft built specifically for Port MacKenzie and Mat-Su Borough, yet without landing sites or customers to use it, it sits idle in Ketchikan where it costs over $47 thousand dollars a month to park.
- $255 million – Prison with no one in it: Goose Creek Correctional facility built near Port MacKenzie with $225 million of state money is empty waiting for inmates. The jobs at the prison have not been filled. When it does open, it will cost us about $5 a day per inmate to use the toilets. An audit of the construction of the prison requested by the Senate Finance Committee found avoidable cost overuns.
- $1.5 Billion – Bridge to nowhere: Knik Arm Bridge is now being looked at more closely by the Senate Finance Committee. This year KABATA is requesting $150 million. Total costs are estimated to run up to a billion dollars and the state could be financially responsible if not enough toll-paying drivers use it. Drivers from downtown Wasilla currently can drive the same distance in half the time on existing roads to downtown Anchorage without paying a $5 or higher toll.
- Wasilla-Anchorage map (38.7 miles, 40 minutes)
- Wasilla-Port MacKenzie map (38.7 miles, 1 hour, 33 minutes, not including the 1.7 mile “bridge)
- Knik Arm bridge debate runs into Senate roadblocks: Concerns voiced over traffic and population projections, financing and subsidies, 3/27/12 Anchorage Daily News.
All of these projects are connected to the $218.5 or up to $301 million – for a Train to nowhere: The Port Mac Rail Extension would go 32.5 miles from Houston to Port MacKenzie, plus a 3 mile loop. At least $60 million has been requested by the Matanuska Susitna Borough for 2013. Total Estimated Cost of Rail Extension is anywhere from $218.5 to $301 million shortening the distance to tidewater for resource extraction by 26 miles.
An estimated 606 mineral deposits are known along the tracks from Fairbanks to Port MacKenzie ranging from:
- Metallic Minerals – Antimony Copper, Lead, Molybdenum, Silver, Tin, Tungsten, Zinc, etc.
- Industrial Minerals – Asbestos, Chemical Grade Limestone for Portland Cement and Lime, Crushed Stone for Aggregates, Gypsum, Sulfur, etc.
- Refined Petroleum Products
- Forest Products
How are all of these costly projects related? Click here to see the long range plan for proposed tank farms at Port MacKenzie and all the burried treasure dreamed to flow out of the Port – devastating thousands of acres of Alaskan Wilderness and habitat.
Tell the legislature we shouldn’t be wasting money on projects that make bad economic sense and threaten our health. Write today to ask your legislator to remove funding for the Port MacKenzie rail extension project from the capital budget.
Questions? Call Alaska Community Action on Toxics at 907-222-7714 or email Heidi at akaction dot org.