Despite a wind chill of 13 below zero, some 350 citizens turned out the evening of November 15 in the small town of Sutton, Alaska, about 60 miles northeast of Anchorage, for a four-hour public hearing about the proposed Wishbone Hill Coal Mine. The meeting was hosted by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The Wishbone Hill Mine is a proposed strip mine in the Matanuska Valley, about 5 miles west of downtown Sutton and less than a mile from a residential area. The Sierra Club's Alaska Beyond Coal campaign has been working to keep new coal mines from developing and prevent coal-fired electricity generating projects from coming online.
"More than 200 of the people in attendance were against the mine, wearing 'Say No to Wishbone Hill Coal' t-shirts and stickers and holding up signs," says Sierra Club organizer Emily Fehrenbacher.
"When the meeting was opened up for public testimony, 48 of our people testified with eloquent, values-based, substantive comments, compared to 31 pro-mining people from the Resource Development Council and Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc., who invoked nothing but 'jobs,'" Fehrenbacher says.
"Our main TV station broadcast live from the meeting, and we had a press conference the day before featuring local moms, property owners, a Chickaloon Village Traditional Council Leader, and a local doctor."