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2009.11.12 Press Release

Groups Ask Snowbird Owner Dick Bass to Stop Coal Mine

Contact: Mark Kresowik, 202-675-7914

Coal Is Ski Industry Killer

Salt Lake City (UT) - Several organizations partnered at a downtown Salt Lake City rally today with a call on Snowbird Ski Resort owner Richard Bass to not construct what would be Alaska's largest surface coal mine. The groups say that the mined coal would be a huge contributor of greenhouse gases and to rising temperatures in the future, thereby effectively killing Utah's ski industry for future generations.

Richard "Dick" Bass, who owns the prominent Utah resort, has partnered with Herbert Hunt to form PacRim Coal LLC, a Delaware mining company that is proposing the mine in order to feed Pacific Rim coal markets. Environmental studies and estimates on the mine proposal show that it would produce over 12 million tons of coal annually and when burned would emit over 54 billion pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

"This is the ultimate irony, a climate-dependent businessman investing in a project that would have the same climate changing impact as over a billion cars," said Clair Jones with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign in Utah. "We're here today to ask Dick Bass to leave this dirty coal in the ground due to the impacts that this project would incur on our planet's climate and ultimately Utah's winters and its billion dollars-per-year ski industry."

The group, Protect Our Winters, a national ski and snowboard advocacy group was also represented at today's event with the appearance of professional snowboarder Forrest Shearers.

"Keeping our climate stable is critical to the sustainability of resorts like Snowbird and the many other first class ski resorts in Utah," said Shearers. "Perhaps selfishly, it's also critical to those of us whose livelihoods are dependent on good winter snowfall.

"But I also want my kids and grandkids to have the same opportunities I've had," said Shearers. "This is why we need to be moving towards cleaner sources of energy and away from dirty coal."

Environmental studies of the PacRim mine also show that it would inundate approximately 11 miles of tributaries in the Chuitna River system, impact approximately 30 square miles of land within the watershed and eventually destroy one of the state's best wild salmon fisheries. The Chuitna River is one of the main rivers that drain into the Cook Inlet.  

The issue has galvanized groups in Alaska against the coal mine in order to protect the fishery.

"I'm here in Utah today to ask Dick Bass to have the same dream for Alaska that he has for Snowbird," said Emily Fehrenbacher, representative for the Sierra Club Alaska.  "He can use his power and influence to help us move towards clean and renewable energy future, where we don't have to mine through wild salmon streams for dirty coal." 

"What about OUR dreams of living and retiring in a pristine area with mountains, salmon & wildlife, and a river with clean drinkable water?" asked Bobbi Burnett from her home in the Anchorage/Beluga area. As a founder of the Chuitna Citizens Coalition, Burnett said that Bass has ignored their requests to meet with residents and landowners.

"Our homes, lifestyles, and health are severely threatened by this mine but we are not giving up without a big fight," said Burnett.

With today's event, the groups launched a new website ( where individuals can take action to urge Bass to not construct the coal mine.

"We want to give people a direct opportunity to inform Mr. Bass of their concerns," said the Sierra Club's Jones. "It needs to be clear that we are not advocating a boycott of Snowbird, but we do think it's appropriate to make Snowbird's management aware that we don't approve of their owner's intentions with this coal mine."

Coal is Killing the Ski Industry banner

For more information, go to

Sierra Magazine recently published an extensive article on the Chuitna coal mine, which can be found at

Several independent biological studies of the mine's impacts can be downloaded at:

  • Report on Chuitna Coal Project Aquatic Studies and Fish and Wildlife Protection Plan
  • Chuitna Coal Mine Baseline Monitoring and Restoration Plan Review
  • Report on Chuitna Coal Project of PacRim Coal


Contact: Mark Kresowik, 202-675-7914


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