Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 20, 2017

Arizona Happy to Sacrifice Navajos to Keep Dirty Coal Fired Power Plant Open -- Letter

Roberta Blackgoat, with her son Danny Blackgoat, and Mike
Flores, Tohono O'odham, protesting Peabody Coal and depletion
of the aquifer in Flagstaff. Photo by Brenda Norrell

Article by Brenda Norrell
Censored News

The following letter from the Arizona Corporation Commission to the Secretary of Interior reveals the fact that Arizona was always happy to sacrifice Navajos in order to receive its dirty, coal-fired electricity for Southern Arizona.
Arizona politicians, along with corrupt attorneys and irresponsible media, were responsible for the relocation of more than 14,000 Navajos in order to clear the land for Peabody Coal to mine Black Mesa.
This coal has long powered the Navajo Generating Station on the Navajo Nation, poisoning the air, water and rupturing the land. It depleted the aquifer and caused widespread critical health problems.
This dirty energy resulted in 40 years of misery for Navajos on Big Mountain and Black Mesa.
The Navajo Nation Council and President Russell Begaye -- who rallied at Standing Rock last year to fight Dakota Access Pipeline -- are now working to keep this dirty coal power plant open.
It is one of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the world.

ARIZONA CORPORATION Commission’s letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on a 5-year "settlement" proposal.
It's Time to Stop and Take a Breath on Arizona's Power Future

The negotiations over saving Navajo Generating Station (NGS) have ended and the Navajo Tribal Council is left with a seemingly unamendable extension agreement to keep the coal-fired power plant in partial service for another two years. With no room to alter the proposal in the Navajo Tribal Council and only a few weeks to consider it before the Salt River Project (SRP) proceeds with decommissioning, it is almost humorous to consider these coincidences as anything but pre-planned. This scripted process, predicated on SRP's imposed urgency forgets the 2013 verbal agreement and handshake to keep the plant open until 2044 as part of a multi- owner settlement to close 1/3 of the plant to meet EPA regulations.

So here we have it: A sad, short stop to a longstanding institution that is responsible for what Arizona is today. Arguably, without NGS there would hardly be a Valley of the Sun. Some of Arizona's greatest statesman-Rep. John Rhodes, Gov. Paul Fannin, Sens Barry Goldwater and Carl Hayden and Interior Secretary Udall -stepped up to the plate to make sure the power for our Colorado River water allocation would be "home grown" in Arizona.1 NGS allowed Arizona to be self-reliant by using our own coal and our own plant in unison with our Native American communities to provide for our state's young economy. The Sierra Club and business community alike, rejoiced over this cooperation.
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