Homer Alaska - Letters

Story last updated at 5:56 PM on Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pay attention, Alaskans

The mining industry has significant potential in Alaska if it can proceed in an environmentally sound manner. Our permitting process is intended to assure us that it will and we have a responsibility to be vigilant as these permitting processes move forward.

One such application is pending now for the proposed Chuitna Mine on the Chuit River in Upper Cook Inlet where a proposed surface coal mine would completely eradicate significant sections of a productive salmon stream. The mining company itself says, "approximately 17.4 km (11 miles) of total stream-channel (salmon) will be removed during the mining operations."

Most stream restoration science today deals with modification of existing channels, not removal, and with subsequent re-vegetation, but hardly with thousand-year-old peatlands such as those on the Chuitna.

So, heads up, Alaskans. Pay attention as this permitting process moves forward. There are places for surface mines: Is a rich salmon stream one of them? Do we want to risk trading salmon for coal for China?

Susan Ruddy



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