Success! No Strip Coal Mine in Alaska’s Chuitna River

Last December, Care2 brought you the story of two Gwich’in women fighting to protect a section of the Arctic National Refuge, in the northeast part of Alaska, which has been their ancestors’ home for thousands of years.

They are going up against oil companies that have been trying to drill there for over 30 years, and that struggle is still continuing, with fears that the Trump, Pruitt and Zinke combination could be victorious.

Mining Directly Through A Salmon Stream?

In a different area of Alaska, about 45 miles west of Anchorage, lies the Chuitna River watershed. Like almost all of Alaska’s untouched splendor, this area is home to both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Animals such as fox, lynx, wolves, coyotes, wolverines, waterfowl, bears and moose live here. 

In addition, all five species of wild Pacific salmon make this pristine watershed their home and use it for spawning. The salmon here are crucial, because numerous other species rely on salmon for their food.

It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful setting, as you can see here:

Yet this is where an out-of-state company, PacRim Coal, proposed to create a strip coal mine.

This proposal was the first in Alaska’s history to consider mining through a salmon stream. Nearly 14 miles of salmon streams would be removed, according to a conservative estimate, and then PacRim Coal was planning to dig 300 feet down to have access to the coal bed.

Horrified by what was being planned in the pristine environment which is her home, Marcy Valka, a member of Alaska’s Dena’ina Athabaskan tribe, created a Care2 petition demanding that President Trump and Alaska’s leaders say “no!” to PacRim Coal.

Important Success!

Her petition garnered over 72,000 signatures, and on March 31 the Alaska Department of Natural Resources announced that PacRim Coal had suspended all permitting activities related to the Chuitna Coal Project.

Congratulations to Marcy Valka and to all the Care2 activists who signed her petition. 

According to the official statement from the company, after “several months of internal reviews and discussions,” the partners decided to “suspend pursuit of permitting efforts on the Chuitna Coal Project.”

PacRim Coal was in the later stages of the permitting process for their $600 million project. Their intention was to ship coal to South Korea, Japan and China, but now it’s pretty clear that this is another sign that Trump won’t be able to make good on his promise to bring coal mining jobs back to America.

The Demise Of Big Coal

With coal mines struggling and failing all over the U.S., thanks to cheap natural gas and the growth of renewables, this is a really important indication that the dirtiest of fossil fuels really is on the way out.

In fact, there are now twice as many solar energy workers as coal industry workers around the country. 

Taking on a coal company that is proposing a $600 million project is no small feat, so congratulations again to Valka for her courage in standing up against the destruction of her beautiful land and the lives of the people who live there.

If you have an issue that is deeply troubling to you, consider creating your own Care2 petition, using these guidelines. Soon you may find the vibrant Care2 community signing up to support you.


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


Marie W
Marie W6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla8 months ago

Yay! I hope this lasts forever.... Coal is not the answer, we need renewable energies ASAP!

Leanne K
Leanne K9 months ago

Wow! Well done!
Sensible outcome!

Carl R
Carl R10 months ago


Anna R
Past Member 10 months ago


natasha s
Past Member 10 months ago

Great. Just wondering how long the good feeling will last. I honestly believe as long as that disgusting douche Trump is in office than anything that sounds even remotely positive will somehow turn out to be a disaster.

Süheyla C
Süheyla C10 months ago


Mark D
Mark Donner10 months ago

When is Trumpo going to die from his heart attack? I'm extremely impatient here.

Will R
Will Rogers10 months ago

Mmmm...I think they should give Alaska back to the Canadians or Russia or whoever they conned it from.

Bill E
Bill Eagle10 months ago

Hurrah for Alaska. Coal is a fuel that is no longer needed.