In December of 2017, a coalition opposed to potential strip mining of coal in the Copper River Delta Watershed sent a letter to Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott urging their leadership in expediting a link-to-injury assessment that they said is the first step needed for the trustee council to consider and commit to using some EVOS funding to acquire and protect 11,000 acres of coal in the Bering River coal field.

The coalition recognized that for the trustee council to expend EVOS settlement funds that a “link-to-injury” determination was needed for any potential habitat project relating to the species and human services injured by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

The link to injury in this instance is compelling and we believe that the use of EVOS consent decree funding to achieve this historic effort is fully justified and with such strong justification and rationale would be agreed to if necessary by the court the coalition said.

The letter was signed by hundreds of individuals, plus small businesses and non-profit entities, including Copper River Watershed Project, Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, Cordova District Fishermen United, Orca Adventure Lodge, individual fish harvesters, marine conservation biologist Rick Steiner of Anchorage, and others.