The Alaska Mental Health Trust plans to lease more potential coal deposits in the Chickaloon area. They are talking about bid awards possibly by the end of the calendar year.
Meanwhile attorneys for a coalition of seven conservation and tribal groups have contacted the state Department of Natural Resources in an effort to shut down operations at the Wishbone Hill coal development near Sutton.
In a letter to Commissioner Dan Sullivan, The Trustees for Alaska filed a “citizen complaint” on behalf of the groups and the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, claiming that Usibelli Coal is violating state law because it does not have a valid mining permit.
Russell Kirkham, the state coal regulatory program manager, says Usibelli’s exploration permits are valid. State law requires a company conduct mining operations within three years of receiving a permit, although extraordinary circumstances, such as litigation, may allow DNR to extend that time at the discretion of the commissioner. Kirkham says action on the Wishbone Hill permits was held up in part by the lengthy Mental Health Lands Trust litigation.