Where is there any evidence of potential damage to a watershed, or the specter of an air quality violation? Where is there evidence of any damage to property values or to the ability to get a loan on property? First National Bank of Alaska and the Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union have both denied the allegations of those opposing the mine. Yet, the lie is maintained on in the radio ads.
This campaign against Usibelli has been undertaken with the typical liberal penchant for making the most outrageous claims without any basis in substance or fact. The only issues that they can bring up are areas that are the responsibility of our federal and State agencies. They imply with their gross misrepresentations that these agencies are incompetent. They imply by their advertising that the EPA, DEC, DNR, and the Army Corps of Engineers have been suborned to the coal company's "evil" purposes. That these agencies and the professionals that staff them will not evaluate Usibelli's plans under the scrutiny of State and federal law.
I have a solution.
Let these whining liberals who have decided that this Valley does not need this development pay into the MSB's and the State's coffers the tax revenues that would otherwise be generated by this project. Let them also put up a fund to compensate local business for the loss of the revenues generated from the lost wages were this project not to come to fruition. Let them put their money where their mouths are, because all that they have done so far is to whine and cry, and to express their liberal anti-development tirade at the expense of those who need, want, and otherwise would support the development of a resource that has a long history of development in this Valley.
Given the unlikelihood of those opposing doing their civic duty and compensating for the loss of the mine, I propose the following alternative.
Why did the Alaska Rail Road (ARR) stop maintaining the track to Sutton after the coal mine shut down? Bad policy, and a Palmer City Council that did not want coal trains moving through Palmer. The ARR, rather than float the bonds to repair and refurbish the rail system, and to circumvent Palmer, if necessary, has required any company that needs their services to move coal or minerals from that area to pay for the track. Must be nice to have a monopoly. However, that is not what the ARR is all about. It is a quasi-public corporation that is supposed to benefit the State, which is the only shareholder.
Governor Parnell's DNR, the Valley legislative delegation, and the ARR should get together and figure out the benefits of the coal mine to the Valley and the State. Instead of squandering $214M on a 500mmcf/da natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Nikkiski that will never be economically viable and will cost millions in subsidies yearly and raise our natural gas prices in south central, using the money to repair and upgrade the rail to Sutton would be of greater benefit to Alaska and the Valley in the long term.
Jobs would be created for the refurbishment of the rail line. The ARR could rehire those it just laid off, because of the shut down of the Fairbanks Flint Hills Refinery. Jobs for Valley residents would be created by the mine development, and there would be no trucks on our highways. Rail would haul the coal from Sutton to Seward or Pt. MacKenzie.Once again, coal would fire the economy of the Valley and provide year round high paying jobs. The ARR would be supporting resource development as it is supposed to do, rather than acting as a financial impediment to further development of energy and mineral resources.