Thursday, February 24, 2011

Property Values & Coal don't mix

Did you know a local bank has denied home loans within a mile of the proposed coal mines?

Banks take the hit when people walk away from their loans when the property values plunge below the amount they owe on loans.

Athabascan Tribe Voices Concern Over Coal Mine, APRN Radio, Talk of Alaska, 2/24/11

By Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
"The Chickaloon tribe is taking its concern over a proposed mine in the Mat Su Valley to an international audience. The Athabascan community near Palmer is opposed to a coal mine project being developed by the Usibelli Company that would access coal at a site called Wishbone Hill. The tribe filed a document presenting their concerns to the United Nations Independent Expert on water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, a Portuguese human rights expert appointed by the U.N Human Rights Council who will be taking testimony in the U.S and meeting with State department officials. This is her first trip to the United States. The Wishbone Hill issue is a test case in Alaska to see how the U. N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples might be used to intervene in development projects. President Obama declared U.S. support for the document in December.
The tribe claims the area of development is where they have traditionally hunted and fished, especially for potlatches and other important gatherings and ceremonies.
Harrison will be testifying in California to the U.N.’s de Albuquerque about the tribe’s fear that the coal mine will pollute Moose creek, a waterway the tribe has spent more than a million dollars successfully restoring as a salmon spawning creek. Harrison says bringing their case to an international audience should help pressure the U.S. to uphold the U.N. Declaration.
Harrison says he is hopeful that new DNR commissioner Dan Sullivan will come to Chickaloon and listen to the tribe’s complaint with the coal mining project. But he’s concerned about what he perceives as a problem with the state’s mandate of developing resources while keeping the environment clean.
During a recent broadcast of the statewide call in program Talk of Alaska, Commissioner Sullivan addressed this issue of a perceived dual mandate as he responded to callers from Chickaloon and Palmer who were concerned about the prospect of the Wishbone Hill coal development plan. One caller said her son’s school is within site of the project and she worries about the possibility of coal dust blowing into the school yard on windy days. Sullivan said resource development is critical for the future of the state.
Sullivan said when he testifies to the state legislature, he often starts by quoting article 8 Section 1 of the state constitution that reads in part that the state encourages development of resources for maximum use consistent with the public interest. He said it’s a broad statement but clearly one that was important to the delegates who wrote the constitution.

Commissioner Sullivan will be meeting with the Chickaloon tribal council on March 14th to hear their concerns. Another meeting is also scheduled for Sutton."

New report, agencies differ on environmental, health impacts of coal ash in Fairbanks, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 2/24/11

Please comment and see the comments by OldOwl & Wildsalmon.

Did you know Rep Don Young's H.R. 517 would entirely repeal the EPA's veto authority under the Clean Water Act.

Radioactive Coal & Coal Ash:

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste
By burning away all the pesky carbon and other impurities, coal power plants produce heaps of radiati

Coal Ash: Radiation Protection

Radioactive Elements in Coal and Fly Ash:
Abundance, Forms, and Environmental Significance

Some Amazing Facts about Nuclear Power

Coal Combustion: Nuclear Resource or Danger

Radioactive Coal Article #137

The levels of the contaminates in coal have been measured by the University of Alaska as well as the USGS. The trace toxins are measured/reported in the part per million (PPM).

Uranium is found within Healy coal at about 1.6 PPM, along with its radioactive isotope that occurs at a fractional percentage. Lead is around 9.00 PPM, and mercury is around .02 to .05 PPM. The concentrations vary with the samples taken.

Coal Databases

Although the concentrations of these toxins are small, the quantity of the coal burned is large, and as a result these small concentrations add up quickly. For example, literally, pounds of the radioactive isotope of uranium have been dumped on to Fairbanks over the decades. High radiation levels have been measured near the power plants. How many cancers this has caused is of great concern. The toxic properties of the other toxins like lead and mercury are well known. How many pregnant women have delivered brain damaged kids from their exposure to mercury that is methylated in the environment? How many kids have had their IQs lowered by their exposure to lead that has been measured in the Fairbanks soils?

When the true costs of burning coal are measured (human deaths, injuries, cancers, etc) coal is THE MOST EXPENSIVE fuel by far. Coal lobbyists don't want you to know this.

See the Harvard Report: Coal costs US taxpayers over $500 billion US per year!

I copied the above comment from an earlier post to an editorial by Steve Denton of Usibelli Coal MIne. Strange that the link to the USGS no longer works... Also, strange how Ms. Carter, PR person at Usibelli has written threatening letters trying to get people fired at USGS, UA colleges, and Doctors who have spoken out about the detrimental impacts of coal on PEOPLE. It is also strange how the SPILLS database at DEC no longer is up on-line which shows hundreds toxic spills by Usibelli and Hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and citations which they are contesting.

The data base with the coal information on Healy mysteriously no longer contains the ONLY active coal mine in Alaska, Usibelli Coal Mine - in the DENALI BOROUGH! But, you can look up Matanuska coal at:

Sign Petitions!

Save communities from mountaintop mining Tell Don Young to knock it off: I urge you to oppose any bills that attack EPA's ability to protect the public under the Clean Water Act. Rep. Don Young's H.R. 517 would entirely repeal the EPA's veto authority under the Clean Water Act.

Donnie's press release

Salmon & Coal mining don't mix!

Quick link to send a letter! Read more at Chuitna Citizen's Coalition or Cook Inletkeeper.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chickaloon Village Press Release

Chickaloon Village presents its case against Coal Mining to United Nations Expert on the Human Right to Water

For Immediate Release

February 22, 2011: Chickaloon Native Village, a federally-recognized Athabascan Indian Tribal government in Alaska, filed a communication to the United Nations Independent Expert on the human right to water and sanitation in conjunction with her first official visit to the United States, which began today.

Chickaloon Village’s submission asserts that the new open-pit coal strip mine in its traditional territory proposed by the Usibelli Corporation would contaminate local drinking water sources as well as rivers, streams and groundwater that support salmon, moose and other animals and plants vital for subsistence, religious and cultural practices. The US Federal Government and the State of Alaska have, to date, not responded to Chickaloon’s firmly-stated opposition to the mine.

The visit to the US by the Independent Expert, Mrs. Catarina de Albuquerque, a Portuguese human rights expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, includes stops in Washington DC, Boston Massachusetts and Northern California, where she will meet with the Winnemem Wintu and other Indigenous representatives. Her US visit will end on March 2, 2011.

During her visit she will meet with the US State Department and relevant Federal agencies as well organizations, communities and experts to receive information regarding the human right to water and sanitation and the federal and state policies and practices that affect this right. She is expected to make recommendations to the US government at the conclusion of her visit.

The right to water for Chickaloon and other Indigenous Peoples is not limited to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. It is closely linked to a range of other rights including Self-determination, subsistence, health, land and resources, cultural and religious practice and free, prior and informed consent. International standards including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognize Indigenous Peoples’ right to determine their own priorities for development and to exercise free, prior and informed consent regarding activities which may affect their traditional lands and resources, including water.

Coal mining in and around Chickaloon in the early 1900’s had devastating impacts, including contaminating rivers and decimating traditional food sources such as moose and salmon. The tribes’ long years of effort to restore its culture, subsistence, language, health and ecosystems, including its waterways, will be severely undercut if not nullified by the proposed new mining.

Explaining the reasons behind Chickaloon’s filing, Traditional Chief Gary Harrison stated: “International standards like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognize our inherent sacred right to protect our water and keep it clean for the animals, fish and future generations of our Nation. Our right to water is the same as our right to life. We can’t sit back and allow our human right to water to be violated again”.

For more information please contact:

Chickaloon Village Tribal Chief Gary Harrison: (907) 232-0777,
Chickaloon Village Traditional Council Secretary Penny Westing:
Chickaloon Village Attorney Geoffery Stauffer: (907) 868-1859,
International Indian Treaty Council General Counsel Alberto Saldamando: (415) 641-4462,
International Indian Treaty Council Alaska Office, Executive Director Andrea Carmen: (907) 745-4482,


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Coal Meeting 2/17, 7-9 pm @ MTA

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Wishbone Hill

Mat Valley Coalition

Wind damage video from December 2010 Wind Storm.
Coal Fact sheets
You Tube Wind video from the core area of the Mat Su.

Wishbone Hill

Health Impacts & Coal Ash
This fact sheet is part of the Coal Threats to Human Health series, produced by Alaska Community Action on Toxics for the Beyond Coal Human Health Campaign.

True Cost of Coal
The long-term costs and environmental impacts of coal-powered electricity and the associated increase in coal mining and combustion will directly affect the land, air, waters of Alaska and health of Alaskans.

Mercury, Coal & Fish
Alaska has issued fish mercury advisories for salmon.


Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Destroys Communities
Mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining is one of the world’s most destructive practices for extracting fossil fuels. This extreme method of strip mining is scarring the landscape and threatening communities. In Alaska, strip mines

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Deadline for Chuitna Unsuitable Lands Petition extended

Public Notice:
Rescheduled on a new date: Feb. 19th in Tyonek

Comment deadline for Chuitna Unsuitable Lands Petition extended to 2/19/11 5pm.

Comments may be submitted as to the merits of the petitions to designate portions the Chuit River Watershed as unsuitable for surface coal mining operations under AS 27.21.260 and 11 AAC 90.705(a). Written comments on the merits of the petition must be received by the Department of Natural Resources no later than 5:00 p.m. February 19, 2011. Send comments to Russell Kirkham, 550 W 7th Ave Suite 920, Anchorage, AK, 99501, or email them to

It is very important to continue to submit comments. One comment may pertain to one issue. DNR frequently will reschedule meetings and hearings to get a more favorable balance of Development comments. Please research any "successful" wetlands restoration after mining projects and "prove" why these are not the same as a wild salmon stream.

127 people attended Jonesville Coal Mine Meeting

Update: DNR had 127 people sign in for the meeting. Great turnout! 26 people signed in to give oral comments. An additional 10 people gave comments by did not sign up. Only two people spoke in favor of the mining.

January 24, 5:30-8 pm Sutton Elementary School

SUTTON - Informal Conference on a SURFACE COAL MINING PERMIT RENEWAL JONESVILLE UNDERGROUND MINE will be held from 5:30pm to 8pm at the Sutton Elementary School. The Jonesville Coal Mine is located in the Matanuska Valley approximately 11 miles northeast of Palmer and approximately 2 miles northwest of Sutton, near the southeast portion of Wishbone Hill. The informal conference will be held between 5:30pm to 8:00pm on January 24, 2011.The public meeting is open to the general public and any person who is or may be adversely affected by the renewal of the permit may submit a written or oral statement.