Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

December 23, 2008

US Government Continues Genocidal Assault on People of Black Mesa

U.S. Government Continues Genocidal Assault on the People of Black Mesa
By Klee Benally
Indigenous Action

Black Mesa, AZ -- On Monday, December 22nd, 2008 The U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) issued a decision to approve the Black Mesa Project. This decision continues the legacy of the United States Government's genocidal policies against those living in the Black Mesa region.

For more than 30 years Dine' and Hopi traditionalists, mainly elders, have resisted continued assaults on their lives and land because of coal mining operations. Through policies such as PL93-531, the U.S. has already forcibly relocated more than 14,000 Dine' people from their ancestral homelands.
Although PL93-531 has been portrayed as a resolution to this so-called "Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute", elders from the Black Mesa region have resisted and held that the coal beneath their homes has been the real interests of the Federal and Tribal governments.
This decision has been widely viewed as a foregone conclusion because of the colonial history of the area relating to resource extraction. Activist's also decried the decision making process due to OSM's lack of meaningful outreach to impacted communities and refusal to extend public comment deadlines.

In February 2004, Peabody Energy submitted to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) a permit application proposing substantial revisions to its mining plans at the Kayenta and Black Mesa Mines on Black Mesa, which is located in Northern Arizona.

Additional impacts of the Black Mesa Project include (from
• Establish permanent mining rights until the coal runs out or until at least 2026!
Substantially accelerate global climate disruption and cause an ecological meltdown.
Destroy thousands of acres of pristine canyon lands, causing animal and plant ecology and cultural sites to vanish.
Increase the detonation of coal on a daily basis, affecting air quality and health of miners, local residents, and their livestock.
Deplete the already scarce water tables and regional aquifer that are all essential to residential survival.
Uproot & relocate families from their ancestral homelands due to coal mining expansion.
Sacrifice human dignity and planetary health for elite profit! Peabody would cause many more problems than what is reflected here. Its roots remain sunk deeply in the history of colonial genocide, corporate power grabs, and ecological devastation.

In 30 years of controversial operation, Peabody's Black Mesa Mine has been the source of an estimated 325 million tons of CO2 that have been discharged into the atmosphere.* If expansion plans are permitted, it would exacerbate already devastating environmental and cultural impacts on local communities and significantly add fuel to the fire of the current climate chaos we face globally. Coal from the Black Mesa mine could contribute an additional 290 million tons of CO2 to the global warming crisis!* (info from
Coal from the Black Mesa Mine was delivered to the Mohave Generating Station until it's doors were shut on December 31, 2005 due to non-compliance with a 1999 consent degree that required the owners to install pollution controls. The coal was transported to the plant in a slurry (about 50/50 water and crushed coal) through the Black Mesa Pipeline, owned and operated by Black Mesa Pipeline, Inc. As a part of the Black Mesa Project, this coal-delivery system would be rebuilt. Southern California Edison and other co-owners of the Mohave Generating Station are proposing to construct and operate a new water-supply system to convey water from a well field near Leupp, Arizona, using water from the Coconino (C) aquifer, to the Black Mesa Mine for the coal slurry, and mine related uses.

Lawsuits against OSM to protect the land and people of Black Mesa are expected to be filed by multiple groups.

Pressure can also be put on the incoming Obama Administration considering that intended energy policies include further use of so-called "Clean Coal".

Additional groups such as Navajo Green Jobs are also proposing alternative energy transitions on the Navajo & Hopi Nations to reduce dependency on non-renewable resources.

Of course, we must not just shift dependencies to a more "green lifestyle", we must find more sustainable and meaningful ways to better our relations with mother earth. No matter how green our lifestyles, capitalism will never be sustainable.

For more information visit:

To read the full decision visit:

Klee Benally - Independent Indigenous Media

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused because I can't tell whether the Mojave Generation Station is supposed to be reopened in this newly approved version of the Black Mesa Project.

My best guess was that Peabody was planning to reopen the mine because the U.S. Air force is scheduled to be flying on coal to liquid transpo fuel by 2011.