Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bering River Coal Shareholder to Divest

The majority shareholder in the Korea Alaska Development Corp. says he is giving the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOS) until May 28 to buy his shares or risk development of the coal prospect on the eastern edge of Prince William Sound.

H. Joe Shin, chairman of KADCO, made his offer in a letter in late April.

Shin said KADCO still is agreeable to enter into a conservation transaction to help conserve the area of the coal field to further the restoration mission of EVOS. Shin, who will celebrate his 80th birthday in a few months, said that over the last three decades he has developed a special kinship with Cordova, but now he must make some decisions, including what to do with his majority shares in the company. He said that arrangements have been made with others with minority shareholder status in KADCO to convey some shares to them, allowing them to become majority shareholders, unless an agreement is reached with EVOS by May 28.

A coalition of Alaskans, including marine conservation biologist Rick Steiner of Anchorage, have for years urged that funds for oil spill recovery from the Exxon Valdez disaster be used to retire the Bering River coal field patent from the Korean entity. In December the coalition, including hundreds of individuals, plus small businesses and nonprofits, urged the trustee council to use part of the EVOS settlement funds for a “link to injury” determination needed for any potential habitat project related to the species and human services injured by the 1980 Exxon Valdez disaster. So far, the trustees have only agreed to have staff scope the potential link to injury of fish and wildlife resources and human services in the Copper River Delta.

“Never has there been a more appropriate opportunity to use EVOS funds as to buy and retire the Bering River coalfield owned by KADCO,” Steiner said. “Chugach Alaska Corp. did its share last year, by selling interests in their forest in Carbon Mountain, along with the residual coal, in the California carbon market.

“But the vast majority of the environmental threat in the region remains in the Bering River Coalfield, still owned by KADCO,” he said.

According to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten, who serves as a trustee on the council, the big issue is that these coal fields are outside of the Exxon Valdez oil spill area, and the matter currently is not a huge priority for the council.

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