In a victory for the climate and thousands of families in the Matanuska Valley, the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) issued a preliminary ruling that the mining permits used by Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. to develop their proposed Wishbone Hill mine are invalid. Originally scheduled to begin production in 2010, legal challenges and a growing base of grassroots advocates have blocked the progress of the Wishbone Hill coal mine, the first coal strip mine in Alaska situated in a residential neighborhood.
OSM’s determination may mean Usibelli has been operating in violation of Alaska and federal law for at least the last two years by conducting mining activities without valid permitting. While not the end of the project, this finding is a major setback in the coal industry’s efforts to develop Alaska’s extensive coal resources. ACF, along with Alaskans for Energy Freedom, strategically directs funding to local groups organizing to protect the Mat-Su Valley from coal mines.