Wishbone Hill Coal Project Draws Lawsuit

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The Trustees for Alaska are going back to court to fight a federal okay for coal mining at Wishbone Hill in Palmer. Trustee attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court in Anchorage today (on Wednesday) on behalf of the Castle Mountain Coalition and other groups opposed to coal mining in the area. Vicki Clark is an attorney representing the plaintiffs.

“At this point, you know, folks have been very concerned about a big new coal mine that could go in right next door under a permit that was issued decades ago,” Clark said. “And they really want the opportunity to participate in making decision on that in in getting current information, and so our clients want to challenge that decision.”

The Castle Mountain Coalition filed the suit against the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement [OSM] for its decision last November to allow Usibelli Coal to operate at Wishbone Hill. Plaintiffs allege the Wishbone Hill mining permits, now owned by Usibelli Coal, are expired.

The status of the mining permits has been in question for some time. But last year, the OSM upheld the state’s decision to renew the permits, while criticizing the state’s handling of the matter. OSM’s Robert Postal  said the state had erred by not officially terminating the permits in the first place.

The Castle Mountain Coalition represents about three thousand Matanuska Valley residents.