Dick Bass, owner of the Snowbird Ski Resort, is currently involved in a proposal to create the second largest strip mine in the U.S. 

The company responsible for the project, PacRim Coal LLC, of which Bass is a co-owner, is the driving force behind plans to eviscerate and pollute large tracts of Alaskan wilderness. According to the website for the Chuitna Coal Project, as the proposed strip mine is called, “The Project is based on the development of a 300 million ton, ultra low sulfur, subbituminous coal resource, the center of which is approximately 12 miles from the coast of Cook Inlet … The Project area is largely undeveloped except for a system of primitive roadways that remain as a result of oil and gas exploration and production and logging activities.”

This “largely undeveloped” area also happens to include 30 miles of bear, moose and salmon habitat. The Chuinta Coal Mine would be the first in Alaska permitted to mine directly through an active salmon stream. Local fishermen argue that this mine will destroy 11 miles of salmon habitat in the Chuinta river tributaries, and the project would result in seven million gallons of waste per day being dumped into the Chuinta watershed. The effect on the wildlife would be devastating and irreversible.

The 300 million tons of coal will then be shipped to Asia and burned. The irony of the situation is that burning the coal extracted from the mine will result in 27 million tons of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. This would, of course, negatively affect both worldwide air quality and contribute to global climate change.

When a ski resort owner decides to contribute to global warming, it might seem like deciding to shoot himself in the foot, especially when a 2007 study found that by the year 2100, global warming could reduce Utah’s skiing season to just TWO MONTHS – from Christmas to President’s Day.

Now, to all you skiers and snowboarders out there, Dick Bass shooting himself in the foot probably doesn’t bother you too much. But Dick doing his part to ruin your grandchildren’s ski season (not to mention Utah’s future tourism economy) should. 

The Utah Chapter of Sierra Club, a national environmental organization, will be staging protests against Bass’s hypocritical investment. Clair Jones, a representative from Utah Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, says, “It’s ironic that Bass is investing in an industry that will eventually melt Utah’s world-famous snow. He’s harming wildlife habitats in Alaska, and the future economy and environment of Utah.

“…I think it’s important for skiers to know that they are supporting dirty coal when they choose to buy their season pass at Snowbird. Sierra Club and other environmental organizations are really excited to work with UVU students to get that message out, and I hope students choose to get involved. We can always use an extra voice.”