Cook Inlet Keeper Warns of Strip Mine Development


Jacob Resneck/KMXT

A proposed coal mine would irreparably destroy a salmon stream in the Cook Inlet watershed. That was the message Dennis Gann of Cook Inlet Keeper delivered to a Kodiak audience during a ComFish Kodiak forum.

The Delaware-based mining concern PacRim wants to extract 12 million tons of coal annually as part of the Chuitna Coal Mine. But the mine would involve the wholesale removal of about 11 miles of a coho salmon stream. Gann argues that allowing a salmon system to be sacrificed for mining sets a dangerous precedent.

— coal 1 :50 "One of the things … your favorite salmon fishery."

Cook Inlet Keeper has filed a petition with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources that the area is unsuitable. Gann says a ruling on their challenge is due on Tuesday (April 12).

— coal 2 :17 "It- it seems to us … area for coal mining."

PacRim has yet to file a formal permit and a draft environmental impact statement isn’t expected – at the earliest – until later this year. The mining company has said it would be able to restore the salmon stream after the mine is decommissioned. But Gann says there’s little evidence that a salmon system can be restored once it’s been removed by strip mining. If it were possible it would be happening elsewhere.

— coal 3 :17 "I don’t think it’s wise policy … would probably apply it."

The coal for the project would be exported to Asian markets, especially China. Coal-fired power plants are responsible for mercury discharges and acid rain. Gann argues that strip mining Alaska to fuel Asian coal plants would create a dangerous irony.

— coal 4 :17 "Coal is one of the primary … a number of different ways."

Gann’s remarks came during a forum at ComFish on Friday. The proposed site is about 60 square miles in an area about 45 miles west of Anchorage. The mine would require a number of state and federal permits.


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