Snowbird supporting dirty coal

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.”

5 Responses to "Snowbird supporting dirty coal"

  1. Nathan   October 2, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve never been to Snowbird, but based on your recommendation, I might just try it out.

    Low sulfur coal is better in that its main bi-product is CO2, whereas if they burn the dirty high-sulfur coal, then they contribute to acid-rain as well as global warming. Cleaner is better, even if it’s not perfect.

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  2. Bobbi   October 8, 2009 at 12:54 am

    The problem with low sulfur coal is that it does not burn as well as high sulfur so you have to use more to get the same BTUs. We have better alternatives than dirty polluting coal. If the same amount of money was invested in renewable energy, our future would be much healthier.
    Bass doesn’t care about the environment–only the money NOW.

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  3. hey dummy   October 8, 2009 at 1:37 am

    yeah china doesn’t care about renewable energy, they are busy trying to keep billions of people fed and not freezing to death

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  4. ryan   October 9, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I agree with you Bobby. There are other better alternatives.Like wind,solar and hydro energy.(costly,but they wont cost anyones lives)The real problem is that the people in charge are the ultra-rich.No matter how rich they are they only want more,more,more.Hopefully people will pull their heads out of their arses and demand change.Sadly though,i believe as long as the big business,big money folk are in charge nothing is sacred- everthing is for the reaping(raping) and we are all screwed.I guess we have no choice but to eat the ultra rich.Seriously though,sometimes the only way to get results is through revolt-revolutions,but that would require the complacent sheeple to snap out of it.Don’t hold your breath on that.I’m afraid people will never speakout enough to stop impending $hitstorms,but that does’nt mean we should not try.Final note-power to those folks that will speak up and…

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  5. bob   October 10, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    nathan – this is not only low sulfur coal but also low rank coal, so you need to burn more to get same BTU’s. so more greenhouse gases and mercury. so, not clean. coal is dirty any way you cut it, and bass should divest from this project and reinvest the proceeds into the area proposed for mining, to protect fish and water in Alaska.

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