For Immediate Release
August 17, 2009
Mark Clemens, Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, 801-467-9297
Ryan Demmy Bidwell, Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition, 970-385-9833
GROUPS BLAST SNOWBIRD OWNER OVER ALASKA COAL MINE PROPOSAL
‘Coal Interests Counter to Ski Industry’
SALT LAKE CITY – A
huge coal strip-mining operation proposed on Alaska’s Chuitna River by
the owner of the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Utah has drawn the
ire of groups concerned about the mine’s contribution to global warming.
Richard Bass, who owns the prominent Utah resort,
has partnered with William H. Hunt to form PacRim Coal LLC, which has
submitted permit applications to build a coal mine directly on top of
11 miles of prime salmon fisheries feeding the Cook Inlet. Nearly all the coal excavated from the mine, located about 45 miles from Anchorage, would be exported to coal markets in Chinaand other Pacific Rim countries.
The Chuitna mine would produce more than 12 million tons of coal
annually, which when burned, would emit more than 27 million tons of
sadly ironic that the owner of a business that is solely dependent upon
heavy snowfall and consistent winters is pushing a project that is a
direct threat to the ski industry and completely contrary to the ideals
of outdoor recreation,” said Ryan Demmy Bidwell with
the Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition. “Coal is the single largest source of
global warming pollution on the planet. We’re already seeing impacts on
climate and weather patterns in the West. And this man wants to sell
millions of tons of coal to China so it can be burned? Utah skiers and backcountry enthusiasts should be outraged.”
mine proposal is even more hypocritical, conservation groups say, since
Snowbird has been an active participant in the National Ski Area
Associations Sustainable Slopes program, whose environmental
initiatives include reducing greenhouse gas emissions from resorts in
order to protect the climate.
has been one of the leading ski areas in terms of addressing global
warming,” said Mark Clemens with the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club.
“In fact, they were the top award recipient from the NSAA in 2007.
That’s what makes this proposed coal mine by Mr. Bass so troubling.”
50 national organizations and businesses made recommendations that were
incorporated in the Sustainable Slopes charter, a program designed to
make ski resorts more environmentally friendly. Clemens doubts any of
the participating organizations would be too thrilled to know that Bass
was planning to develop a large coal mine.
“I can’t help but believe that some might consider this a real slap in the face” he said.”
In addition to its contributions to global warming, the mine would destroy one of Alaska’s
most productive salmon fisheries. According to three scientific
analyses of the mine’s impacts being released today, it is highly
unlikely that the river’s fishery would ever recover from damage done
by the mining. This year, the Chuitna River was one of the few rivers in the Cook Inlet region where fisherman enjoyed a healthy king salmon run. But if the mine is built, the studies determined, damage done directly
to the streams and approximately 30 square miles of surrounding
riparian habitat within the watershed would be irreversible.
“We want to keep Utah cool and Alaska wild,”
said Dan Ritzman, the Western Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal
Campaign. “We aim to show that sparing the climate hundreds of millions
of tons of CO2 pollution and protecting this fragile fishery are better
long-term investments for local economies in Utah and Alaska. In today’s transition to a greener economy, investments in coal are simply wasted dollars.”
Ken Tarbox, Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition, at (907) 262-7767
Terry Jorgensen, Chuitna Citizens Coalition, at (907) 583-2665
Ron Burnett, Chuitna Citizens Coalition, at (907) 277-8212
Sierra Magazine recently published an extensive article on the Chuitna coal mine, which can be found online athttp://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200907/coal.aspx
Executive summaries and full text of the scientific studies listed below can be downloaded at:http://www.inletkeeper.org/energy/Chuitna90813.htm