August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coal Plant Fails in Penn., Navajos Hope Desert Rock is Next

Health Risks and Controversy Remain At Sites on Navajo Nation And Nevada

Press statement
KARTHAUS, Penn. – An international energy developer financed by Wall Street equity firm The Blackstone Group has abandoned plans for a proposed 300-megawatt waste-coal power plant in rural Pennsylvania.

Sithe Global, which is also behind the proposed Toquop coal plant in Nevada and the Desert Rock plant on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, announced Tuesday it was canceling its proposed $600 million River Hill plant near Karthaus, Penn. due to financing difficulties.

Progress on Sithe’s other two coal projects has also stalled as a result of permitting and financing difficulties and intense opposition from local communities who say the potential harm to their air, water and health far outweighs any economic benefits from the plants.

“We have suspected for a long time that the River Hill project was very tenuous at best,” said Randy Francisco, of the Sierra Club in Pennsylvania. “It says a lot about the viability of these dirty coal plant proposals when they can’t get taxpayer bailouts and they can’t make them pencil out even with the backing of a company with pockets as deep as Blackstone’s.”

Anna Frazier, coordinator of the Navajo group DinĂ© CARE, said that Sithe’s proposed Desert Rock plant is also on equally shaky ground after suffering one setback after another over the past year. Desert Rock’s pollution permit was withdrawn by the EPA in Septermber, a permit for the transmission right-of-way needed to get the power to Southwest markets was overturned earlier in 2009, and the Department of Energy denied Sithe a request for $450 million in federal stimulus dollars late last year.

“The Navajo communities of Northwest New Mexico have always been opposed to Desert Rock, so we are encouraged by the cancellation of the River Hill project,” said Frazier. “In an area that is already under siege by pollution from fossil-fuel development, Desert Rock has been a six-year black hole that has wasted millions of dollars that could have been used to bring clean-energy projects to the Four Corners region.”

Sithe’s proposed Toquop plant near Mesquite, Nev., originally proposed as a natural gas-fired plant, also has been on the drawing board for years but still does not have a pollution permit or an approved BLM environmental impact analysis, and last year the project lost rights to water it needs for to operate.

“We’ve been trying to persuade Sithe for years to focus on developing Nevada’s vast solar and wind resources instead of outdated and dirty coal,” said Mesquite Mayor Susan Holecheck. “Hopefully, Sithe’s decision to abandon the Pennsylvania plant is a signal that we can soon put the nail in Toquop’s coffin, too, and get it out of the way for clean-energy jobs and economic development in Nevada.”
Tim Wagner
Program Director
Resource Media
150 S. 600 E. Suite 2B
Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Office: 801-364-1668
Mobile: 801-502-5450

Indigenous Peoples: Pollution and Diabetes

Bitter Sweet or Toxic?
Indigenous people, diabetes and the burden of pollution

Contamination of First Nations, Mohawk and O'odham lands linked to diabetes
By John Schertow
The Dominion
WINNIPEG—Diabetes is now widely regarded as the 21st century epidemic. With some 284 million people currently diagnosed with the disease, it’s certainly no exaggeration—least of all for Indigenous people.
... There is growing evidence that diabetes is closely linked with our environment. More than a dozen studies have been published that show a connection between Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); carcinogenic hydrocarbons known as Dioxins; and the “violently deadly” synthetic pesticide, DDT and higher rates of the disease.
O'odham and Diabetes
The Tohono O’odham Nation’s experience bears a close resemblance to Grassy Narrows: the world’s highest rate of diabetes can be found in the southwest Arizona nation. According to Tribal health officials, nearly 70 per cent of the population of 28,000 has been diagnosed with the illness. The O’odham People make up the second largest Indigenous Nation in the United States.
Lori Riddle is a member of Aquimel O’odham Community and founder of the Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment (GRACE).
GRACE was instrumental in the 10 year struggle against a hazardous waste recycling plant that operated without full permits on O’odham land for decades. Owned by Romic Environmental Technologies Corporation, the plant continuously spewed effluents into the air until it was finally shut down in 2007.
The Romic plant was not the first contributor to the O’odham’s toxic burden, explained Riddle. Looking back to her childhood, she recalled: “For nearly a year, [when] a plane would go over our heads, you could see the mist. We never thought to cover our water. The chemicals just took over and they became a part of us.”
From the early 1950s until the late 60s, cotton farmers in the Gila River watershed routinely sprayed DDT onto their crops to protect them from bollworms. According to the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), each and every year, the farmers used roughly Twenty-three pounds of DDT per acre.
In 1969, the State of Arizona banned the use of DDT; by this time the river was gravely contaminated. According to the ATSDR, farmers then switched to Toxaphene, a substitute for DDT—until it was banned by the US government in 1990.
Because of these chemicals, Riddle explains, the O’odham were forced to abandon their traditional foods and adopt a western diet. Farms also went into a recession, forcing many families to leave their communities. Companies, such as Romic, began moving on to their territory, exasperating the situation. “It’s taken a toll on our quality of life,” she says. “I’ve cried myself to sleep.”
The O’odham are dealing with what Riddle terms “cluster symptoms” including miscarriages, arthritis in the spine, breathing problems, unexplainable skin rashes, and problems regenerating blood cells. This in addition to diabetes, which frequently leads to renal failure, blindness, heart disease, and amputations.
Read article ...

Call Congress Thursday: No Loans for Nuclear Reactors

February 24, 2010
Dear Friends:
A quick reminder that tomorrow, Thursday, February 25, is the National Call-Congress Day to stop the Obama Administration's proposed $54 Billion loan program for new nuclear reactor construction--otherwise known as a giant taxpayer giveaway to wealthy nuclear corporations.
You can reach every member of Congress through the Congressional Switchboard: 202-224-3121.
We ask that your call your House Representative and both of your Senators, if at all possible.
Our asks are these:
*we want them to publicly oppose the President's request for a tripling of the Department of Energy loan "guarantee" program to $54 Billion.
*we want them to vote against this program in committee if possible and on the floor if it comes to the floor.
We are supplementing the Call-Congress Day with your letters.
*If you haven't written to your Representative yet this week, please do so here.
*If you haven't written to your Senators yet this week, please do so here.
Please drop us a quick e-mail (to and let us know that you called, and any response you receive.
This is a National Call-Congress Day, being sponsored by several groups, including NIRS, Public Citizen, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Beyond Nuclear, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and others.
Let's keep those phones ringing all day long! Help us spread the word! Make sure everyone has the opportunity to participate. Your actions matter!
Thanks for all you do,
Michael Mariotte Nuclear Information and Resource Service

VIDEO LONDON: Tar Sands OILympics

From London Tar Sands OILympics

St. Regis Mohawks Receiving CITGO Heating Fuel

Citgo will once again donate heating fuel to tribal residents

HOGANSBURG — Though spring fever is setting in, heating help is still on the way to the St. Regis Mohawk tribe. For the third year in a row, the tribe will receive funds from Venezuelan government-owned Citgo. Qualified applicants will receive approximately 100 gallons of free home heating fuel to help get them through the winter, according to the tribe.Other than the five boroughs of New York City, the tribe is the only community in the state to receive help, according to Citgo officials."It's for tribes in the north for whom heating becomes a survival issue," said David T. Staddon, director of public information for the tribe. "We are the northernmost tribe in the state."

Canadian Denison Uranium Mining at Grand Canyon

Canadian-based Denison Mines is mining uranium at the north rim of the Grand Canyon, continuing its disregard for Native Americans

By Brenda Norrell
Photo: Native American children at Red Butte, at the Havasupai Gathering to Halt Uranium Mining in the Grand Canyon in July. Photo Brenda Norrell.

Denison Mines is now mining uranium at the north rim of the Grand Canyon, threatening the water supply and health of the region.

President Obama's new focus on nuclear energy, with funding for nuclear power plants, is creating a new demand for uranium. Obama's new nuclear focus comes as a slap in the face to Native people who supported him and are now fighting new uranium mining on their lands.

Exploitative corporations targeting Native people, including Denison Mines, are continuing their disregard for the health and wellbeing of Native people and future generations. In the Southwest, Native people have long been the victims of uranium mining and were the victims of Cold War uranium mining. Still today, the Navajo Nation is strewn with radioactive uranium mill tailings.

Klee Benally, Navajo at Indigenous Action Media, said the new onslaught of uranium mining in the Grand Canyon comes in defiance of legal challenges and a US moratorium. Havasupai hosted a gathering in July to halt Denison's uranium mining at their sacred Red Butte at the south rim, pointing out the risk to the drinking water of the people of the Southwest and desecration of sacred lands.

However, Denison started uranium mining at the north rim of the Grand Canyon in December and plans to extract 335 tons of uranium per day out of the Arizona 1 Mine. Denison, based in Toronto, Canada, has already targeted Indigenous Peoples with uranium mining and ore processing in Utah and Saskatchewan. Further, Denison has uranium exploration underway in Mongolia and Zambia, targeting more of the worlds Indigenous Peoples with poisoned land and waterways.

Denison is just one of the Canadian companies targeting Native lands in the US. Navajos and Lakotas are in court fighting new uranium mining in the Southwest and Plains.

From the Grand Canyon, Denison is transporting hazardous ore by truck more than 300 miles through towns and communities to the company's White Mesa mill located near Blanding, Utah. The mining, transport and processing will put at risk Native Americans -- Paiute, Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo and Ute -- along with tourists, other residents and those living along the Colorado River.

Benally said, "After being pressured by environmental groups, U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar initially called for a two-year moratorium on new mining claims in a buffer zone of 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park, but the moratorium doesn't include existing claims such as Denison's. The moratorium also doesn't address mining claims outside of the buffer zone.

"The Grand Canyon is ancestral homeland to the Havasupai and Hualapai Nations. Although both Indigenous Nations have banned uranium mining on their reservations the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management may permit thousands of mining claims on surrounding lands, he said.

Due to recent increases in the price of uranium and the push for nuclear power nearly 8,000 new mining claims now threaten Northern Arizona. Uranium mined from the Southwestern U.S. is predominately purchased by countries such as France and Korea for nuclear energy, he said.

"Under an anachronistic 1872 mining law, created when pick axes and shovels were used, mining companies freely file claims on public lands. The law permits mining regardless of cultural impacts," Benally said.

"Currently there are 104 nuclear reactors in the United States which supply 20% of the U.S.'s electricity. In January the Obama administration approved a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan in a guarantee program for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what Bush previously promised in 2005."

Read more of Benally's article at: