Wishbone Hill (Usibelli)
An in depth look at the Wishbone Hill Mine in the Matanuska Valley
Speak Up to Stop an Open Pit Coal Strip Mine at Wishbone Hill!
Wishbone Hill’s coal mining permit is up for renewal and currently open for public comment until October 14. This is a key permit for the mine without which Wishbone Hill Mine cannot operate legally. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently reviewing the mine’s permit and we need YOU, concerned Alaskan residents, to send them your comments expressing your concern with Wishbone Hill’s permit. Because this permit application is over 2000 pages, we have highlighted the most salient and concerning issues to save you some time. Please use these talking points as a guide and be as original as possible when writing your comments.
Impacts to Families, Landscapes and Fish for Coal Exported to Asia
Wishbone Hill is located approximately 40 miles northeast of Anchorage and 10 miles northeast of Palmer, near the community of Sutton. Commercial production of coal in this area began in 1916, when military steamships relied on coal, and continued through 1968. Wishbone Hill leases were purchased in 1983 by the Japan-based energy company Idemitsu Kosan. In 1997, Usibelli Coal Mine, an Alaskan company based out of Healy near Denali National Park, purchased the 7,434 - acre Wishbone Hill Mine.
Potentially, reserves accessed through surface mining at Wishbone are estimated at 14 million tons of bituminous coal. Usibelli has announced intentions to export Wishbone Hill coal to Japanese company "J Power" for power generation in Japan.
There are more than 100 families living within a mile of the proposed mining area, dozens within a few hundred yards of planned blasting. Mining activities, like blasting and ground surface removal, would adversely impact these families through noise, dust pollution, and ground water impacts. Property values near coal mining plummet, and banks have already denied applicants home loans in the area around the proposed mine. Access to popular trails, hunting, and fishing is slated to be blocked for decades if mining proceeds.
The Wishbone Hill area is also traditional land of the Ahtna and is still used today by people of the Native Village of Chickaloon. In their tradition, Wishbone Hill is sacred. The Chickaloons have recently invested considerable effort and more than $1 million to rehabilitate Moose Creek, located in the same drainage as Wishbone Hill, to bring salmon back to the stream. These cultural resources and the investments poured into the stream rehabilitation would be jeopardized and destroyed by coal mining.
For additional information on Wishbone Hill, please click here.