The state Department of Natural Resources has withdrawn a decision allowing a coal mine project to go forward near Sutton. On July 1, DNR announced that it would not allow Ranger Alaska, an Australian owned mining company, to develop a surface strip mine and an underground coal mine at Jonesboro. Castle Mountain Coalition spokesman Kirby Spangler says it’s a win for local residents who are opposed to coal development
Castle Mountain Coalition, Chickaloon Village Tribal Council and other groups have been outspoken against the coal development in the area. A number of coal projects near Chickaloon and Sutton have sparked opposition, based on environmental concerns regarding salmon habitat, air and water pollution and proximity to land considered sacred by Alaska Natives.
Appeals against the coal permit focused on DNR’s failure to respond to public comments and its failure to require mine owners to meet statutory deadlines. Geoffrey Stauffer, an attorney representing the Chickaloon Village Tribal Council, says the matter is in DNR’s hands now. Stauffer says Ranger Alaska needs to file a whole new permit.