To the editor:

Usibelli Coal Co. needs to obtain an air quality permit to begin operations at Wishbone Hill. The Department of Environmental Conservation must deny this permit.

Two thousand school children attend school within five miles downwind of the proposed Wishbone Hill Mine — double that number of students if you stretch that radius to 10 miles downwind of the proposed mine. In the last six months, we had nine days of air quality warnings just from dust blowing downriver from the north. What if those winds, which sometimes reach 80 miles per hour, carried coal dust?

I have lived here in the Valley for 60 years and I have bragged about the clean water, clean air and quiet places. My three daughters and five grandchildren live in this great Valley of opportunity. As a child, I watched my grandfather die of black lung disease, a terrible disease, from working a coal mine in Pennsylvania. This is a memory of a man who constantly coughed and spat.

As a physical educator in Palmer, one who taught cross-country skiing and running, I understand that clean air is essential to an athlete’s success. If we want Palmer school kids to excel, they must breathe clean, coal-free air. To protect air quality for ourselves and our kids, submit comments against this air quality permit to the DEC at aaron.simpson@alaska.gov by 4:30 p.m., April 14.

Helen Woodings

Palmer

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