Oppose the largest coal mine in Alaska history!
The massive Chuitna Coal Mine would take us backwards to more mercury in our fish and more climate change!
While the operator has not revealed who will purchase the coal,
Chuitna coal likely will:
1) Power the proposed Pebble Mine;
2) Lead to dirty local power plants, including mercury emissions that will accumulate in Alaskan salmon;
3) Inhibit clean energy and long-term jobs from renewable power projects in Alaska; and
4) Aggravate Alaskas already severe climate change problems.
The Chuitna Coal Project near Beluga, Alaska, is a massive proposed surface strip mine, a 12 mile partially-enclosed coal conveyance system, and a 10,000 foot loading facility extending into Cook Inlet, all located approximately 45 miles west of Anchorage. Project operator, PacRim Coal, expects at least 25 years of mine operations, extracting 1 billion metric tons of coal from 20,571 acres of leased area.
On July 10-12, 2006 during the height of the fishing season when many Alaskans were busy the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held three scoping hearings (in Kenai/Soldotna, Anchorage, and Beluga/Tyonek) for the public to raise issues that EPA should study in its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (the EIS is Supplemental because it builds on an EIS for a similar project proposed in the early 1990s). The Draft Scoping Document and the previous EIS are available at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/WATER.NSF/NPDES+Permits/Chuitna+Coal
1. Write a letter to the editor of the Anchorage Daily News (firstname.lastname@example.org) and your local papers. Feel free to use the following talking points but be certain to put in your own words as the ADN will not print letters which have the same wording.
· EPA needs to know if the coal mined at Chuitna will power the Pebble Mine; if this mine will be the primary source of power for Pebble, then EPA needs to evaluate the impacts of the Pebble Mine and any associated mines in the cumulative impact portion of the SEIS.
· EPA needs to analyze in the SEIS the impact this mine will have on Southcentral energy production. That is, will current natural gas-fired power plants (like the Beluga plant close to Chuitna) convert to coal-fired power because of coals low cost? If yes, there will be considerable, adverse environmental impacts in the region due to significantly increased air emissions of metals including mercury, particulates, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas that enhances global warming). Additionally, EPA needs to assess in the SEIS the adverse economic impacts to the regions commercial and sport fishing industries which will suffer when newly-increased levels of mercury in salmon and other fish reduce demand for Alaskan fish.
· As utilities in the region are making investment decisions to meet future power needs, low-cost, dirty coal may be used rather than renewable power such as tidal, wind, geothermal, wave energy, and small-scale hydro. EPA needs to analyze a reasonable, renewable power alternative for the region in the SEIS.
· EPA needs to analyze the global warming impacts of allowing development of this coal deposit to go forward. Alaska and the Arctic regions of the world are ground zero for global warming and are already suffering the warming and drying effects of climate change. Contributing more greenhouse gas-producing coal to the world energy supply is a move away from renewables and thus a move in the wrong direction as the global warming phenomenon nears crisis proportions.
· Salmon-bearing streams near the mine may be compromised if the mine goes forward. The Draft Scoping Document states that when the coal conveyance system crosses streams, it will be partially enclosed on the underside to prevent coal or dust from entering the stream (p. 12, emphasis added) rather than fully enclosed. EPA needs to evaluate in the SEIS if this conveyance system and the mine will harm salmon and if wastewater and stormwater discharges from the mining operation will adversely impact salmon.
· The mine will include a port facility and will increase ship traffic in areas important to the Cook Inlet beluga whale, which is now being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. EPA should analyze the full scope of impacts to the beluga and its habitat.
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