by Sue Deyoe ~ June 16th, 2010
After hours of discussion on Tuesday night, the Mat Su Borough Assembly came to a near consensus on Usibelli Coal’s Wishbone Hill near Sutton.
The Assembly approved a new 25-year lease for road access across Borough land that will allow Usibelli Coal Mine to access the Glenn Highway.
Assembly member Vern Halter at one point wanted to try and introduce a motion that would demand that Usibelli bring their coal only to Port MacKenzie, but he said he knew it would fail. Many tries were made by almost every assembly member to introduce amendments to offer protection to area residents as well as the length of the lease. There was disagreement throughout the evening as members tried to come up with an agreeable solution to the proposed mine.
Usibelli will determine whether it will mine coal at Wishbone within the next year or so. About half a million TONS per year would be hauled from the mine to Port MacKenzie, where it would exported to Japan. The Borough estimates Port fees would equal 818-thousand dollars per year.
Amendments on the approved lease include stipulations for pollution insurance, Usibelli would be responsible for cleaning truck tires before entering the Borough road and trucks would need to be covered to eliminate coal dust. The final vote was 6- 1 in favor of the new lease.