Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bolivia's Climate Summit & Navajo Hopi Victory

By Brenda Norrell

Bolivian President Evo Morales announced an Alternative Climate Summit, to be held in April, as Navajo and Hopi celebrate a victory. The US Interior Department voided Peabody Coal's permit for coal mining on Black Mesa in northern Arizona.

The US Department of Interior, Office of Hearing and Appeals, in Salt Lake City said the Office of Surface Mining violated the law.

"OSM violated NEPA by not preparing a supplemental draft EIS when Peabody changed the proposed action. As a result the Final EIS did not consider a reasonable range of alternatives to the new proposed action, described the wrong environmental baseline, and did not achieve the informed decision-making and meaningful public comment required by NEPA. Because of the defective Final EIS, OSM's decision to issue a revised permit to Peabody must be vacated and remanded to OSM for further action."

Earlier, in the 1970s, Peabody Coal orchestrated the so-called Navajo Hopi land dispute, to remove Navajos and make way for coal mining. The US relocated more than 14,000 Navajos. While coal mining destroyed the land and poisoned the air at Black Mesa, water was drained from the aquifer.

Coal-fired power plants are cited as a primary reason for global warming. US coal-fired power plants -- including the Navajo Nation's coal-fired power plants at Page, Ariz., and in the Four Corners area -- are a primary reason for global warming, resulting in the melting Arctic ice and destruction of Arctic homelands for Indigenous Peoples and wildlife.

Meanwhile in Bolivia, Morales invited activists, scientists and government officials to an alternative climate conference following the failure of the summit in Copenhagen. Morales said the Copenhagen summit failed to produce binding agreements.

The climate summit will be held April 20-22 in Cochabamba, with Indigenous Peoples, social movements, environmentalists, scientists and governments invited. However, Morales made it clear that this is a summit for and by the people.

One purpose is to pressure industrialized nations to accept their climate debt to poor countries. Further, the summit calls for an international court on environmental crimes. Other topics will include a "universal proposal for the rights of mother earth" and the transfer of technology.

Although some Indigenous voices were heard in the media from Copenhagen, including the Indigenous Environmental Network and the effort to halt the Tar Sands in Canada, many Indigenous groups found there was no platform to speak, or make a difference, at the Copenhagen summit.

Bolivia was one of five countries to block a consensus to accept the Copenhagen Accord. The deal was brokered by President Barack Obama, but Morales said the deal was done in secret by a small group of countries. Since there was no formal adoption of the document, the "noted" document has less moral and legal weight.

Back door deals are exactly how Peabody Coal orchestrated the so-called Navajo Hopi land dispute and coal mining on Black Mesa, carried out without a proper EIS or permits. Peabody Coal, attorneys, US senators, including John McCain, and tribal councilmen, cut backdoor deals which has resulted in more than 30 years of suffering for Navajos living on Black Mesa. Navajos resisting relocation live without basic necessities, with no one to turn to when they are cold, hungry and sick. Ultimately, the Navajo Nation government abandoned its own people on Black Mesa in favor of revenues from coal mining.

Complete copy of order, on pdf file, available from

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!! it's been long time coming, we are happy the court ruled in favor of the forgotten peoples lawsuit against peabody coal co.
again congratulations

About Censored News

Censored News is published by Brenda Norrell. Since 2006, Censored News has received more than 20 million pageviews. As a collective of writers, photographers and broadcasters, we publish news of Indigenous Peoples and human rights. Contact publisher Brenda Norrell:

Donate to Censored News

Please donate to Censored News for travel and equipment for our live coverage. Thank you, Brenda.