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Anti-coal groups descend on Utah to rally against Alaska's Chuitna Coal Project


Last updated 11/22/2009 at Noon

Sierra Club Alaska has joined several other environmental and anti-coal groups to hold a Nov. 12 rally in opposition to developing a coal mine at the Chuitna Project in Southcentral Alaska.

Richard "Dick" Bass, who owns the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah, is also co-owner of PacRim Coal LLC, the company which has applied for permits to develop the Chuitna Coal Project.

The Chuitna Coal Project is a surface coal mining and export development proposal for an ultra-low-sulfur, sub-bituminous coal resource located in the Beluga Coal Field about 45 miles, or 72 kilometers, west of Anchorage.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in the early 1990s a project design for developing a mine at Chuitna was evaluated in an Environmental Impact Statement and permitted by most of the applicable state and federal regulatory programs, but the project did not proceed to development.

When PacRim decided to reapply for permits to develop the mine, EPA determined that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement would be needed, due to changes in the regulatory requirements as well as the mine design.

EPA is the lead federal agency for the SEIS process. Two other agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, are participating closely in the SEIS process as cooperating agencies and will coordinate their permit application reviews with the SEIS process. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also participating as a consulting agency and will provide input throughout the SEIS process.

The current project proposal predicts a minimum 25-year mine life with a production rate of up to 12 million short tons a year, the bulk of which would be shipped to Pacific Rim countries.

The anti-coal protestors contend that coal produced at Chuitna will contribute to global warming, and as a result negatively impact Bass' ski resort.

Sierra Club Alaska representative attended the Utah anti-Chuitna rally.

"I'm here in Utah today to ask Dick Bass to have the same dream for Alaska that he has for Snowbird," said Fehrenbacher. "He can use his power and influence to help us move towards clean and renewable energy future, where we don't have to mine through wild salmon streams for dirty coal."



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