KENAI, Alaska — Emotional testimony was heard Wednesday night at a public hearing in Kenai hosted by the state Department of Natural Resources about a plan to develop the Chuitna coal mine, about 45 miles west of Anchorage.
Dozens of people spoke in favor of a petition to designate the lands near Beluga and Tyonek as unsuitable for coal mining, which would derail Pacrim Coal's plans for a strip coal mine in an area that has an active salmon stream.
Testimony got under way this afternoon and, one by one, it was obvious the vast majority of people at the meeting did not support the mine.
"Once you do damage to the environment, as the strip mining would do, you can never get it back restored to its original state again," said Kathy East, who offered testimony at the hearing.
The proposed coal mine could produce 300 million metric tons of coal over a 25-year lifespan near the small communities of Beluga and Tyonek -- which residents see as a threat to the almon stream.