Petition To Designate Lands Unsuitable For Coal Mining Chuit River Watershed
Detailed Statement of Findings and Decision on Petition Requesting that the Streambeds of Anadromous Waterbodies and Associated Riparian Areas in the Chuitna River Watershed be Designated as Lands Unsuitable for All Types of Surface Coal Mining Operations (PDF)
Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan on October 24, 2011 issued a 109-page decision rejecting a 2010 petition to designate state lands within the Chuitna River watershed as unsuitable for coal mining. The petition was filed by Trustees for Alaska on behalf of the Chuitna Citizens Coalition and Cook Inlet Keeper. Alleging that the lands cannot be reclaimed after mining, the petitioners asked the state to ban surface coal mining operations within the Chuitna watershed. Granting the petition would have halted an extensive environmental review of proposed mining activity and blocked the state from reviewing future permit applications for coal mining on these lands.
The petition was opposed by three entities - Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office, Tyonek Native Corporation (TNC), and PacRim Coal, LP - who intervened during the petition process to protect their property interests. Commissioner Sullivan found that the petition did not meet the statutory requirements for granting a petition because, in part, the evidence in the record demonstrates that reclamation is technologically feasible. This evidence is cited extensively in the decision.