Lawsuit Challenges Unpermitted Mining by Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. in Alaska
May 2, 2012
On May 2, Sierra Club and its allies filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alaska asserting that an Alaska coal mining company is operating its Wishbone Hill strip mine in the Matanuska-Susitna valley without valid permits. The lawsuit – filed by Friends of Mat-Su, Castle Mountain Coalition, Cook Inletkeeper, Alaska Community Action on Toxics and the Sierra Club’s Alaska Chapte - challenges the validity of Usibelli’s mining permits and takes the federal Office of Surface Mining and Division of Natural Resources to task for allegedly ignoring complaints to force the mining company to comply with the law.
The lawsuit claims Healy-based Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. is moving forward with strip mine operations at the Wishbone Hill Mine near Sutton even though its permits expired as a matter of law in 1996. Under federal and state surface mining laws, permits automatically expire three years after they are issued unless the company begins mining or can show that it is entitled to an extension. The Wishbone Hill mine received its mining permits in 1991. The mine operator applied for and received an extension to the deadline for starting mining operations until 1996. The company did not apply for any additional extensions after 1996, and did not begin mining operations until 2010.
Since 1991, when the mine was originally permitted, the region has experienced extensive residential development. Those residents are now concerned that the industry will harm their home values, water quality and health.
Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. must stop its operations at its Wishbone Hill mine site and be made to restore land damaged by its illegal mining activities.
Details and Documents:
Usibelli Mine Company Challenged for Mining Illegally
May 2, 2012, Sierra Club et al. Press Release
See other "Stopping Mountaintop Removal and Other Destructive Mining" cases.