To the editor:

Imagine sharing Knik-Goose Bay Road, already a designated safety corridor, and the Glenn Highway with 75-ton coal trucks making 100 daily round trips from Sutton. Now add even more trucks a day if a coal mine near Chickaloon becomes reality.

People in the Mat-Su Borough should be aware of the proposed coal mining by Usibelli near Sutton. Less people are aware of the coal exploration by an Australian corporation, Riversdale, that proposes developing a coal mine near Chickaloon. Both companies plan to ship coal to Japan, South Korea and China using the port at Point MacKenzie.

If you do not live near any of the proposed coal mining sites, you may be feeling good that you won’t have to deal with noise pollution, coal dust, polluted watersheds, reduced recreational opportunity and lower property values. But if these mines come to fruition, for coal to be shipped out of Alaska, the companies plan on using the Port MacKenzie, which puts the coal in the backyards of the Palmer-Wasilla area. The only means of transporting coal to port at this time is with 75-ton coal trucks, and the only route is via the Glenn Highway, directly through Palmer, on through Wasilla, then via Knik-Goose Bay Road, where accidents already happen too frequently.

There is no infrastructure in place to handle the transport of coal. These trucks will be going through the intersections your children cross to attend school, they will be sharing roads not only with your personal vehicles, but with all the buses full of your children. Do you think our road systems are prepared to handle the daily onslaught of these trucks? Are you prepared to put up with the increased traffic and possible coal dust? As these roads deteriorate, who pays for the upkeep? The Mat-Su Borough does not have a natural resource extraction fee; there would be no benefit to lower property taxes (unless you consider lower property values a benefit).

Whether you think coal is an archaic energy source or still a viable energy option, and while coal companies and the current borough administration tout coal mining as an economic boon for the area, when one weighs all the pitfalls of road maintenance, coal dust pollution and the dangers of sharing our already congested highways with 75-ton coal trucks, there really is little or no economic gain for the Mat-Su Borough — although the coal companies will be counting up their profits at our loss.

Craig Baer


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