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Community of Chickaloon and tribal leaders take coal complaints global

Posted: May 17, 2011 - 7:00pm

FAIRBANKS — Alaska Native leaders in the community of Chickaloon are going global about their opposition to nearby coal exploration by Usibelli Coal Mine of Healy.

The Chickaloon Native Village and its traditional Native council have filed a complaint with the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development over exploration at Wishbone Hill.

Opponents said the area represents an ancestral Athabascan site. They also said Usibelli built a road 100 yards from the tribal Ya Ne Dah Ah School.

Gary Harrison, chief of the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, said Usibelli’s efforts would reverse the work the group has done to restore fish populations at Moose Creek that was destroyed “by World War I coal mining”

“Our efforts received substantial funding and won national awards from the U.S. federal government. Now they want to destroy it all over again,” he said in a statement.

Usibelli spokeswoman Lorali Carter said the company’s exploratory work has been permitted for years and is aimed largely at protecting Moose Creek.

Carter said the idea that Usibelli intends to harm the environment “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, formed in 1961, lists as its goal the promotion of “policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.”

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