New Mexico dignitaries who have spoken out against the proposed Desert Rock power plant will meet with Navajo resisters at the site near Shiprock, N.M., on Tuesday. Desert Rock power plant would be the third power plant on the Navajo Nation. Nearly all of the power goes to non-Indians in the Southwest, while many Navajos continue to haul water and live without electricity. Navajos live with the environmental degradation and disease from the pollution.
By Elouise Brown
Dooda Desert Rock
Dooda (NO) Desert Rock to Host New Mexico Dignitaries
Ram Springs, N.M. near Burnham, N.M.— Dooda (NO) Desert Rock (DDR) will host political dignitaries from New Mexico at 9:00 AM on Tuesday, September 4th, at the DDR resistance campsite in the area targeted for construction of the proposed Desert Rock Energy Project. Staff of Presidential candidate New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Secretary of the Environment Ron Curry will be attending to meet with local Navajo elders to discuss their concerns about violations of environmental justice orders and potential adverse health impacts of Desert Rock. Senator Pete Domenici and New Mexico Attorney General Gary King have been invited.
The meeting will include a tour of the Sithe Global, LLC drill site as well as the adjacent BHP Navajo Mine. During the meeting, the elders plan to request that the Governor write a letter to Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley proposing an alternative to construction of the Desert Rock plant.
"Now is the time to impress upon our elected leaders the severity of the threat we face," said
Pauline Gilmore, a Navajo elder with DDR. "Our health and homeland are at risk from a third massive coal-fired power plant in the Four Corners area."
Governor Richardson has expressed "grave concern" about the potential adverse environmental impacts of Desert Rock, and DDR members have voiced alarm that tons of airborne toxins will seriously jeopardize the health and futures of their families.
“Like old fashioned snake oil peddlers, promoters of Desert Rock claim these poisons will actually improve our air quality," said Elouise Brown, DDR President. "But, we know better, and we would rather be poor and healthy than financially well-off and sick in bed. Our health is far more valuable to us than any tainted profit or misbegotten financial gain."
Both Senator Domenici and Attorney General King have expressed an interest in objections to the Project and will learn more about the disproportionate adverse impacts befalling Navajo families in the area.
“Hearing about the severe threats we face is one thing," said Ken Quinn, "but witnessing these conditions first hand with their own two eyes will undoubtedly concentrate their attention on our worsening plight."
The Desert Rock Energy Project is a proposed 1500 megawatt power plant planned for the Navajo Nation in northwest New Mexico. Desert Rock would be the third major coal-fired facility within a 15 mile radius in the San Juan Basin. The Project would accelerate environmental degradation in the Four Corners, a National Sacrifice Area notorious for runaway energy development and lax environmental oversight.
(Photo Top) Dooda Desert Rock resistance camp/Indigenous Action (Photos 2 and 3 US EPA) The Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz., and the Four Corners Power Plant in the Four Corners area of Shiprock, NM, both on the Navajo Nation. Photo 4: Carlan Tapp/Navajos protest at Navajo President Joe Shirley's inauguration.
The Four Corners region is where unreclaimed uranium tailings are scattered from the Cold War uranium mining, resulting in widespread cancer and respiratory deaths for Navajos. Oil and gas wells are now widespread, creating a toxic soup for the air, water and land. The region of northwest New Mexico is also the place of Dinetah, the sacred place of origin for Navajos. --bn