Ding Dong Chuitna is Dead (at least for now)

After roughly a decade of navigating the permitting process, PacRim Coal has decided to suspend all permitting efforts for the Chuitna Coal Mine Project. This decision is a major victory for the coalition of grassroots organizations and the native Tyonek people who have been fighting this proposed project for years.

Even in this unfortunate era of megaprojects, Chuitna stands out as particularly egregious. Alaska is no stranger to mines, but never has a company had the audacity to propose mining directly through 13.7 miles of a salmon stream. Not only would the project completely remove miles of the Chuitna’s headwaters, but it would also pollute the river downstream by discharging seven million gallons of mine wastewater into the river each day. The unprecedented scope of this devastation is why American Rivers named the Chuitna one of America’s most endangered rivers in 2015.

Making matters worse, approval of this “pioneering project” would also increase the likelihood that other proposed mines in the Chuitna Watershed will be built. Plus, it would establish a dangerous precedent that would endanger hundreds of salmon rivers that course through Alaska’s untapped coalfields.

Dan Graham, project manager for PacRim Coal, told state coal regulatory program manager Russell Kirkham that the owners “decided to shelve the project” after an investor fell through. The company also issued a statement last week: “Following several months of internal review and discussions, the partners in PacRim Coal, LP have decided to suspend pursuit of permitting efforts on the Chuitna Coal Project.”

Chuitna is far from a dead project but considering all of the bad conservation news inundating us these days, this victory is definitely cause for celebration. So congratulations to all of the people on the ground in Alaska who worked tirelessly to stop this project and for those outside of the Chuitna Watershed that supported this important campaign.

Crack open a beer (or your beverage of choice) and do a little celebrating tonight.

LINK (via: Alaska Dispatch News)

LINK (via: VICE News)


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