Denali Citizens Council Appealing Decision Allowing Usibelli’s Natural Gas Search

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Denali Citizens Council is appealing a state decision to allow Usibelli Coal to look for natural gas in the Healy area.  The appeal filed this week in Superior Court challenges the Department of Natural Resources best interest finding on an exploration license for work on over 200,000 acres of land on both sides of the Park’s Highway near Healy and Denali National Park.  Denali Citizen’s Council President Nancy Bale says the state did not follow through with commitments to local people made during a drawn out permitting process.

Bale says the decision to appeal was tough for the board.  She says the Healy based group supports natural gas development in the Denali Borough in general, but has problems with some lands in the license area, including private property, recreation and wildlife sensitive areas. Bale says the Citizen’s Council hopes to collaborate with the local coal mining company to come up with a compromise solution.  The exploration license can be converted into a development lease if Usibelli finds gas. The state has claimed exploration and even development will likely only affect a small part of the licensed area. Each step of the process includes public review.

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