In 2011, Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc. received a license to explore for gas on more than 200,000 acres, completely surrounding the town of Healy and local subdivisions. Although we at DCC questioned the size and some of the stipulations of the license, we did not outright oppose gas exploration and possible development in the Denali Borough.
More specifically, we asked that such activities be limited to lands east of the Nenana River. The final license, however, included all lands approved in the preliminary Best Interest Finding for the project. By law, Usibelli was required to submit Plans of Operation for any exploration activities under the license, and on July 19th, the Plan of Operations for Usibelli’s first exploration well, the Healy Creek Exploration Well, located on lands east of the Nenana, were released and a 30 day comment period ensued.
DCC just submitted substantive comments with suggestions for important corrections and additions to the plan. We do not oppose gas development on these lands, however remembering that they are state lands, owned by all citizens, we want to be sure that the gas exploration activities there are conducted with the closest adherence to law and stipulations of the Gas Exploration License.
Our comments focused upon correcting inaccuracies, suggesting more stringent mitigation and monitoring, and ensuring clarity regarding public access to nearby lands. Read them below.