Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 28, 2013

Dine' CARE: 'No!' to Navajoland becoming a dumpster for dirty coal

March 28, 2013
By Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment
Censored News

Obvious liabilities of Navajo Mine should prevent waste of
$2.3 million more for needless “investigation” by outside firms;
Deal with BHP Billiton should be dropped

Farmington, NM – As the Navajo Nation Council prepares to vote this week on approving $2.3 million to continue paying a law firm and other consultants to look into the risks of buying BHP Billiton Navajo Mine, Navajo community members with Diné C.A.R.E called the expenditure “needless and wasteful” given the well-known risks and liabilities associated with the mine.

"Buying the mine from BHP Billiton means responsibility for millions of tons of coal ash waste with toxic metals leaching into our aquifer and the San Juan River,” said Donna House of Diné C.A.R.E. “Navajo people do not want that dirty legacy on our hands, nor the massive costs of cleaning it up. We don’t need to pay millions more to high-priced consultants to know this coal deal is a bad deal.”

Three quarters of a million dollars was already approved last fall by the Council to pay consulting companies to study the matter, with little revealed to date about how the funds were spent or what results were obtained.

In January, the president of BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal told the Farmington Daily Times that demand for coal from the mine will drop 30 percent with the upcoming closure of three of five coal boilers at the Four Corners Power Plant, part of an increasing trend away from coal as a power source given its increase expense as a fuel source.  
In addition to declining demand for coal, huge future risks loom in dealing with a mine with 50 years of built-up liabilities, including miles of land filled with millions of tons of coal ash waste laden with heavy metal toxins that could be contaminating groundwater. The quantity and quality of the coal in the mine are also in serious question and BHP Billiton plans to cut about 100 employees from mine operations before Navajo Nation agrees to the purchase.

“BHP Billiton appears to want out of a declining industry here and to leave us on the hook for their mess --which includes economic, health, and toxic waste impacts,” said Colleen Cooley of Diné C.A.R.E. “Instead of wasting millions of dollars more on a last gasp to cling to a dying coal industry, let’s put resources into our future, into building clean energy on Navajo land to benefit Navajo communities.”
Lori Goodman (970) 759-1908
Donna House     (505) 608-1002
Colleen Cooley   (928) 637-3221   Email:

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1 comment:

Ann Garrison said...

I cannot imagine what the Tribal Council is thinking, after all the asthma, cancer and birth defects that coal and uranium mining and coal-fired power have caused amongst the Navajo people, and as solar and wind continue to emerge as the technologies of the future.

BHP Billiton is probably trying to get rid of this worn-out mine to avoid paying clean-up costs.