Fish Radio
Support builds for salmon over coal; one day to comment to DNR
April 8, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch. Will it be water rights for salmon or a coal mine? One day left to weigh in. More after this –

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Alaskans today hand delivered nearly 8,000 comments to the Department of Natural Resources office in Anchorage supporting water rights for salmon over a proposed coal mine. The delivery arrives with the American Rivers listing of the Chuitna River in Upper Cook Inlet as one of the nation’s 10 most endangered rivers as a result of the coal proposal.

The state has been dragging its feet on deciding between competing water rights claims filed in 2009 by the Chuitna Citizens Coalition and PacRim Coal of Delaware and Texas. The Coalition wants to protect spawning tributaries of the salmon-rich Chuitna River; PacRim wants to dewater the streams and dig Alaska’s largest coal mine. Should DNR rule in favor of the mine over salmon habitat, it will set an unsettling precedent.

It would be the first time in Alaska’s state history that we would allow an Outside corporation to mine completely through a salmon stream. And the purpose is to ship coal to China. There would be no domestic use for this coal. And it’s really a very dangerous precedent because if they can do it here in Cook Inlet they will be able to do it anywhere in the state.”

Bob Shavelson is a director of Cook Inlet Keeper.

Based on PacRim data, the first phase alone would remove and dewater 20 square miles of salmon habitat, dig down 300 feet and discharge 7 million gallons of mine waste a day into the Chuitna River. PacRim aims to mine 12 million tons of low grade coal each year for 25 years.

DNR will accept public comments through Thursday, April 9 at 5pm.

Then, unless there is an appeal, a decision could be made within 30 days. Bob Shavelson –

“It’s a very simple choice. Are we going to protect wild, healthy Alaska salmon or dig coal so a couple of Texas billionaires can sell it to China.”

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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at – In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.