Is anyone listening to coal opposition?

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I begin my comment with this pleading question because, when it comes to the issues surrounding development of the Chuitna Coal Project by Pac Rim, the decision makers do not want to acknowledge the facts.

A meeting will be held in Kenai on Jan. 19 at 5 p.m. concerning whether or not it is acceptable to run a coal mine through a salmon spawning stream in the Chuitna water shed area on the west side of Cook Inlet. Common sense and considerable scientific data should prompt decision makers to say, what is there to discuss? Who would want to ruin a very productive spawning process that feeds the critical salmon industry in the northern Cook Inlet? It seems that both state and local decision makers do. The Department of Natural Resources, despite their claims of "a rigorous permitting process," allowed former commissioner Irwin on a junket to Japan to promote the Chuitna Coal Project as a done deal, even though no final permits had been issued. The mayor of the Kenai Borough, Dave Carey, in his presentation outlining the boroughs goals for 2011, stated his objective of getting the Chuitna Coal Project going. This is despite all the data given to him showing the damage to the communities of Beluga and Tyonek and the spawning rivers in the area. In addition, there have been repeated requests from the citizens of Beluga for him to come visit his constituents so he would better understand their concerns. Despite promises to do so he has never come, nor have any member of the borough.

Hope remains that the result of the Jan. 19 hearing will be that the decision makers, after reviewing the data, find the Chuitna Basin unsuitable for coal mining and send Pac Rim back to Texas. Thus far in the process there has been little to be optimistic about.

People wonder why law suits are so rampant. Maybe it is because good hard working residents of the state, despite there best efforts to work within the system, become desperate when no one answers their question. Is there anyone out there?!

Ward Grant, Wasilla

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