Much has been written about the economic advantages and disadvantages of the proposed Wishbone Hill project. Occasionally, we hear vague mention of how it will adversely affect the health of the people or of the land. For some reason, I feel this part of the issue has been overlooked. Wishbone Hill actually threatens the physical health of our community.

I’m an outsider who has found a home in the Mat-Su Valley after trying a few places east of the Mississippi. I love it here and hope to raise children here someday. One thing my travels have taught me is that various challenges occur in all communities. This may be the first time we as a community are debating the existence of a coal mine as a neighbor, yet coal mines have been the neighbors of many, like West Virginia, a place known for its coal

strip mines.
 We can learn from West Virginia. In particular, we can learn from Michael Hendryx of West Virginia
University’s Community Medicine Department. Here are a few of the things Hendryx has learned from his studies in coal-mining communities. The residents, from the March 27, 2008, edition of ScienceDaily:

• Have a 70 percent increased risk for developing kidney disease.

• Have a 64 percent increased risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), such as emphysema.

• And, are 30 percent more likely to report high blood pressure (hypertension).

These statistics are from open-pit and/or strip mines, the same mining styles planned for Wishbone Hill. If you were to add another mining method to the list, mountain top removal, then you would also need to add birth defects to the illnesses involved with coal mining neighbors. It’s scary to think Wishbone Hill could kill us.

One of the things I love about Alaskans is our enthusiasm to play in the outdoors, whether it’s hunting, fishing, snowmachining or skiing. We work hard to have our playtime. We like to catch our food, and I will admit I love salmon — love them fishes — and I worry about the health of our fishes. When the polluted water runs from the mine, down Buffalo Creek, into the Matanuska and then into the Knik where the two rivers intertwine, then we have extraordinary numbers of salmon that will be affected by this mine. Will the salmon run in polluted waters? What will happen to our stock of fish in the freezer? What’s going to happen to Jim Creek?

The act of debating a coal mine may be healthy for a community, but actually having Wishbone Hill will be disastrous to our health. I’m not against mining. I’m against a mine that will likely make me ill. My health and the health of the people in my community is important to me. I’m against Wishbone Hill because I know which direction the water flows. Please prohibit a new permit at Wishbone Hill; the health of our community is dependent upon it.