Chuitna Citizens Coalition sends letter to governor
Alaskans Tell Governor Parnell Again: No Mining Though Our Wild Alaska Salmon Streams
Recent Hearing Testimony Provides Governor Support to “Never Trade One Resource for Another” in Fight Between Wild Salmon & Coal Strip Mining
ANCHORAGE, AK -- In a letter sent today to Governor Parnell, the Chuitna Citizens Coalition asked Governor Parnell to honor his promise to Alaskans to ‘never trade one resource for another,’ by directing Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Dan Sullivan to designate wild salmon streams in the Chuitna watershed as “unsuitable” for coal strip mining. The request comes as DNR reconsiders a petition filed by the Chuitna Citizens Coalition and Cook Inletkeeper to protect wild Alaska salmon from the impacts of PacRim Coal’s proposed Chuitna coal strip mine in Upper Cook Inlet. The original Chuitna Citizens Coalition petition can be found here, and today’s letter can be found here.
On March 2, the Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on mining through wild Alaskan salmon streams, and whether salmon habitat could be successfully restored after mining. Dr. Margaret Palmer, the Director of the National Science Foundation’s Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at the University of Maryland, and a world-renowned expert on coal mining impacts and stream restoration, testified PacRim’s mining plan will ‘destroy 11 miles of salmon streams,’ that these impacts will be “irreversible,” and that “large scale failure at Chuitna is inevitable.”
“Alaska has never allowed a large mining operation to completely destroy a wild Alaska salmon stream, and to do so will set a dangerous precedent throughout the state,” said Ron Burnett, a Chuitna Citizens Coalition member who attended the hearing. “Responsible mining does not destroy salmon streams.”
Although PacRim Coal argues it can build new salmon streams after 25 years of intensive strip mining, it’s never been done before.
Legendary Alaskan outdoorsman and author Dr. Jim Rearden recently stated PacRim Coal “presumes they can replace the 11 miles of Middle Creek they plan to destroy. That is impossible; any Alaskan knows that. If they could build new salmon streams, they could make a heck of a lot more money doing that then exporting coal. Only God can create a wild Alaska salmon stream and all its fixings, and it might even take Him a few centuries.”
“It couldn’t be more clear; this coal strip mine will destroy salmon streams in the Chuitna watershed” said Terry Jorgensen, a commercial fisherman and Chuitna Citizen Coalition Board Member. “We’ve seen the once-great Pacific Northwest and Atlantic wild salmon runs lost to irresponsible development, and we’ll see the same in Alaska if we don’t ban mining through our wild salmon streams.”
Joining Dr. Palmer before the Senate Judiciary Committee were Lance Trasky, a long time Alaska fisheries habitat biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, and Dr. David Chambers, a geophysicist with 35 years of experience in mineral exploration and development. All three experts testified that after exhaustive searches - including a review of more than 38,000 reclamation and restoration projects worldwide - they could not find a single documented example of strip-mined salmon habitat successfully restored on the scale envisioned by the Chuitna coal strip mine in Cook Inlet.