Homer Alaska - Letters

Story last updated at 7:44 PM on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't trade salmon for coal

Gov. Sean Parnell has said several times he will "never trade one resource for another." PacRim Coal, a Delaware corporation, is actively seeking state and federal permits to build and operate the Chuitna coal strip mine 45 miles west of Anchorage, near the communities of Tyonek and Beluga on the west side of Cook Inlet.

PacRim clearly states: "Approximately 17.4 km [11 miles] of total stream-channel [salmon] habitat will be removed during the mining operations."

Allowing PacRim to mine through a salmon stream will set a dangerous precedent for the state of Alaska. If they can do it here, they can do it anywhere.

PacRim has not provided a single example of a strip-mined wild salmon spawning and rearing habitat that has been restored to premining productivity. The complex, genetically diverse wild Alaskan salmon stocks found in the Chuit River, a key to long term viability, cannot be recreated.

We should never trade wild Alaska salmon for dirty coal to power China.

Alaskans, please don't let Gov. Parnell sell out Alaska to the coal companies. California has tried for decades to bring back the wild salmon runs that gold mining and agriculture took away. There is still along way to go. Alaska is wild and should always be wild.

Al Melendy-Zahn

Ridgecrest, Calif.

Our salmon runs in the Chuitna River are more important to us than a Delaware corporation mining coal in Alaska to send to China. Would we allow PacRim Coal state and federal permits to mine to bring jobs to Alaska? Don't we care about anything but our wallets? Are we not going down the same old road of 100 years ago? Are we planning to allow exploitation of a natural resource that could ruin the beauty and productivity of another natural resource, salmon?

We Chickaloon residents know what coal mining did to salmon on the Chickaloon River 100 years ago. We don't want that exploitation to happen near Tyonek and Beluga on the west side of Cook Inlet. We are not comforted by PacRim's assurances and of their ability to clean up their mining sites. They have not one example.

When are Americans, and particularly Alaskans, going to wake up to the fact that human populations on the earth are not going to be able to sustain coal burning here or in China if we expect to sustain the environmental quality we now appreciate on our planet? We, here at Chickaloon, are not just thinking of our wonderful Alaska salmon but of the natural world for all us human beings. No coal mines, please.

The Rev. Sam Wright and Donna Lee

Jeff Whaley and Shawna Trumblee

Thomas, Melea and Acacia Roed

Matty Barnech

The Chuitna Coal mine is still in review. I must agree with Gov. Sean Parnell's statement that he "will never trade one resource for another." How could we when there is so much at stake?

The fact that carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere have risen to such high levels that it is showing up as ocean acidification, higher ocean temperatures, and loss of arctic sea ice etc. We're beyond needing specific education to know that this is evidence of climate change.

How can we continue as a society to consider the relative short term gain of coal mine development? By allowing PacRim the ability to strip mine 11 miles of known salmon stream. This would set a precedent for future developments of this type leaving Alaska to join the wasteland created by other mining ventures. Yes, the Alaska we love would be finished.

Has any one out there ever heard of a strip mined river bed being restored to a viable salmon habitat? We are the custodians of one of the last wild salmon stocks left on the planet. Is wholesome food as important as powering Chinese factories? I think more so.

The homing instinct of salmon are not entirely understood, but what is known is, that water pollution, particularly heavy metals (found with coal) can disrupt the ability for the salmon to find there way to their rearing stream. As these pollutants find their way into Cook inlet, might we be jeopardizing more than one run?

If we screw this up, and lose this genetically unique stock, they can never be replaced. All this versus a few short term jobs? What about our children's livelihood?

Do you agree with what I have said here? Please find your voice and let people know, we cannot afford to wait.


Eric Sandberg

Carpenter / Commercial fisherman