Tuesday night the Sutton school saw a crowd of about 200 turn out to comment to the state Department of Natural Resources about renewal of Usibelli Coal’s permit to strip-mine that old Wishbone Hill deposit. Alice Ciostek opposes that and calls for protection of the valley’s wildlife.
“To allow this mining of 130,000 acres of prime, pristine wildlife habitat, called the Matanuska moose range will destroy its fragile ecosystem forever. This is our treasure, this is our local park, and our streams and rivers. The Matanuska Valley Moose Range is a pristine, priceless, natural resource shared by all, that should be preserved and enhanced and protected for generations of Alaskans. We Alaskans can not afford to trade our priceless resource to a subsidized Usibelli coal mine, the Wall Street Bankers and Asian economies. I ask you to do the right thing and deny this permit application. Declare the land for what it is. It’s a Matanuska Valley moose range,” Ciostek said.
Roger Purcell, on the other hand, says Usibelli is an environmentally responsible developer. He’s been to Healy and seen the company’s operations for himself.
“Conservation with their group has been very high. And I think they can do the same job here for everybody else and give a good economic boost to the area. And that’s what it’s all about. With DNR, the state of Alaska, it’s for the best resource in the state, not just the slight few who want to stop development in the area. We have to make sure when we do development, we have good conservation and good reclamation of the land. And Usibelli has been a good neighbor and I believe they can do that,” Purcell said.
Opponents of the mine say the “best interest” finding for it is obsolete and ought to be reconsidered.
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