As the coal industry collapses, BHP wants to dump its coal mine on the Navajo Nation and continue its abuse
By Dine' CAREhttp://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com
The announcement this week that Navajo Nation has agreed to buy the Navajo coal mine from BHP Billiton has already sparked dissent among Navajo Nation residents and communities as word of the deal has begun to spread.
“This decision by Navajo Nation to 'purchase' Navajo mine exemplifies not only the utmost form of injustice to our community in Burnham but obliterates the core belief of Diné sovereignty. I am truly embarrassed by the incompetence of our leaders to recognize the changing economy and the need for sustainable energy, given how coal development has devastated my community as well as contributing to the global issue of global warming. This is beyond a local issue, in fact, it is a call for a formalized process where stakeholders can be involved to assert the reality of external costs and liabilities left by BHP; fossil fuel development has repercussions beyond our local air shed. There are price tags attached to non-compliance beyond the argument of 'sovereignty'; the NN is no exception,” said Dailan Long from Burnham Chapter.
“The Burnham chapter meeting on 12/16/12, prior to the NN announcement, there was no mention of NN purchasing BHP. It is beyond my comprehension that our people have to purchase and endure an ongoing legacy of direct and indirect violations to maintain a small percentage of employment at the Navajo Mine. In the spirit of sovereignty, our leaders, at a minimum, need to quantify the cumulative costs involved in 'purchasing' a 50-year project and they need to present their findings it to Diné communities in writing. This is a new era where we need to consider the economic realities where coal development is obsolete. I am truly disheartened that the fate of me and my family has been pre-determined without my input,” said Sarah Jane White with Diné CARE.
As utilities and coal mining companies are fleeing from coal across the country, BHP is dumping their facility on Navajo Nation. BHP has made their business decision to leave as the coal quality at Navajo Mine is inferior and the continued operation of Four Corners Power Plant is at question. BHP knows that the liabilities at Navajo Mine are high. Navajo Mine has a 50-year legacy of toxicity and contamination that BHP may be transferring to Navajo Nation. What are the Navajo Nation's plans for requiring Fair Market Valuation, appraisals, and bonding associated with Navajo Mine liabilities prior to any completion of the "non-binding" Memorandum of Understanding?
“The Lower Colorado River water settlement has shown that it doesn’t go over well with people when high-stakes industry-government deals like this are struck behind closed doors, with all kinds of potential risks, downsides, and questions, and little or no public information,” said Anna Marie Frazier with Diné CARE.