A group opposed to the proposed Chuitna coal mine on the west side of Cook Inlet hand-delivered a petition against the project to Gov. Sean Parnell on Wednesday. The petition was signed by 1,500 Alaska residents who agreed that protecting the Chuitna River, a western Cook Inlet salmon stream, is more important than building the mine, said Dennis Gann, an organizer for the anti-mine coalition.
He and two members of the Chuitna Citizens Coalition traveled to Juneau to deliver the petition and met with the governor for about 10 minutes, Gann said.
The coalition, whose members include people who live near the proposed mine, in Beluga and Tyonek, wants Parnell to tell state regulators to protect the river from mining.
The group opposes a proposed development plan for the mine that would involve excavating salmon habitat and later restoring it. Scientists hired by the group say it would be impossible to restore that habitat to its pre-mining condition, according to Gann.
The Chuitna mine project is about 45 miles west of Anchorage. A company called PacRim Coal is pursuing permits for the surface mine and hopes to export an estimated 300 million metric tons of coal to Asia over 25 years. The company is owned by Texas businessmen Richard Bass and Herbert Hunt and the Hunt Family Trust.