Monthly Archives: August 2011

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8/3/2011 Gallup Independent: Dine´officials answer special prosecutor's allegations

8/3/2011 Gallup Independent: Dine´ officials answer special prosecutor’s allegations By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – Former Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan and former Attorney General Louis Denetsosie have denied breaching their fiduciary duties to the Navajo people as alleged in a complaint filed last week by Special Prosecutor Alan Balaran. Attorney General Harrison Tsosie was out of the office Tuesday and unavailable for comment. Controller Mark Grant said he had no comment, and former Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. has not yet responded. Balaran has alleged that Morgan, acting in concert with other delegates, “unlawfully manipulated his position” to encourage other delegates to award approximately $50,000 in discretionary funds to some of his family members.

“I can attest that I’ve never encouraged anyone or delegate to cater to my family. I’ve never gained any money from the discretionary fund, nor gave money to any organization disguisely,” Morgan stated in an e-mail.

“But I would assure that each Council delegate had assisted the Navajo individuals sincerely for their (clients) benefits – in education, household utilities, livestock, etc., etc. Those should be exposed too. That would truly outweigh these negative allegations,” Morgan said.

Denetsosie, who along with Tsosie is alleged to have breached his fiduciary and ethical duties by approving payments to a law firm to defend Shirley against the special prosecutor’s investigation into OnSat, issued a statement, saying, “There is no merit whatsoever in the claim made against me by the Special Prosecutor.

“I will contest this claim vigorously, with the thankful recognition that people who know me and know the accomplishments of my lifetime of work for the Navajo Nation are giving me their full support.” He said he has devoted his time and effort selflessly to protect the proprietary and governmental interests of the Navajo Nation.

Denetsosie – who served as attorney general for eight years and is now general counsel for Navajo Oil and Gas – said that at his request the special prosecutor was granted jurisdiction initially by a Special Division established under Navajo law to prosecute persons involved in the OnSat and BCDS matters and the expenditures of discretionary funds administered by the Navajo Nation Council.

“Later, again at the request of my office, the Special Division enlarged his authority to include investigation of discretionary funds administered by the Office of the President/Vice President and activities of the Tribal Ranch Program. To date, the Special Prosecutor has not obtained a conviction against any person in connection with these matters, although he has reportedly spent over a million dollars of Navajo money in his brief tenure here.”

Balaran said last week that in order to prosecute the case, money had to be expended toward computer forensic experts, accounting forensic experts, other lawyers and staff and that he has not just pocketed the $1.1 million the Nation was billed, as was being portrayed by delegates at a press conference last Friday in response to the complaint. Though there have been no convictions to date, several of those charged last October have settled their cases, including President Ben Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim.

Denetsosie stated that without the approval of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice required under Navajo law, the special prosecutor sought to expand his own authority. “Rather than focus on the non-Navajos who have apparently absconded with Navajo money, the Special Prosecutor focuses on Navajo leadership, alleging that I and others breached our fiduciary duties to the Navajo Nation. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

“Notably, the Special Prosecutor does NOT allege that I acted in any way for personal gain; rather, he misunderstands the role of the Attorney General with respect to the Navajo Nation Council (which has its own legal representation) and with my decision to permit President Shirley to have independent legal representation where the Navajo Nation Department of Justice could not ethically provide such services.”

Denetsosie also said that while the claim against him states that the OnSat matter involved a “scheme to enrich OnSat officials,” that this is the initial matter the special prosecutor was supposed to look into, “but he has not brought one lawsuit to recompense the Nation for this ‘scheme.’”

Water as Basic Human Right Has a Market Price, Says U.N. Chief

Water as Basic Human Right Has a Market Price, Says U.N. Chief By Thalif Deen: UNITED NATIONS, Aug 3, 2011 (IPS) – As the 193-member General Assembly commemorates the first anniversary of its landmark resolution pronouncing water and sanitation to be a basic human right, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon triggered a political controversy last week when he implicitly declared that even human rights have a market price. “Let us be clear,” he asserted, “a right to water and sanitation does not mean that water should be free.” Rather, he said, it means that water and sanitation services should be affordable and available for all, and that member states must do everything in their power to make this happen.

But what if member states transfer their obligations to the private sector, known to extract a heavy price – even from those who cannot afford to pay in the world’s poorer nations?

Darcey O’Callaghan, international policy director at the Washington- based Food and Water Watch, told IPS the important distinction is that while water delivery has a cost, water itself cannot be assigned – as many argue – an appropriate market price.

“Advocating for the human right to water is defined as water for basic health and safety needs,” she said. “It does not mean free water for swimming pools and golf courses.”

She pointed out that when poor slum dwellers pay five times what the wealthy pay for water, it is a clear example of discrimination and thus a violation of the human right to water that is now enshrined in a U.N. General Assembly resolution, adopted in July 2010.

“States are now duty bound to respect, protect and fulfill the human right to water and sanitation,” she declared.

According to the United Nations, nearly 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water, and more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation.

In his statement last week, the secretary-general admitted it is not acceptable that poor slum-dwellers pay five or even 10 times as much for their water as wealthy residents of the same cities.

“And it is not acceptable that more than one billion people in rural communities live without toilets and have to defecate in the open,” he said.

But the reality is far different from the platitudes of the secretary-general, says a new report released by Food and Water Watch.

According to the study, private operations can create obstacles to the human right to affordable and accessible water and sanitation services.

In Guayaquil, Ecuador, water prices increased by 180 percent after the water system was taken over by Interagua, a subsidiary of Bechtel.

The study also said customers of the private water provider in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta experienced a 258-percent increase in tariffs and poor water quality, while only 54 percent of low-income households were provided with new water connections.

A similar pattern of exclusion was also evident in La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia, where a private contractor was accused of denying water service to 80,000 families.

“Many couldn’t afford the cost of setting up a connection, which for the poorest households cost the equivalent of more than two years of food expenses,” the study noted.

At a U.N. press conference last month, President Evo Morales Ayma of Bolivia, one of the strongest advocates of water as a basic human right, told reporters: “Water is life. Water is humanity. The right to water is just as important as any other human right.”

Backed by a 100-million-dollar loan from the Venezuela-based Andean Development Corporation, Bolivia has launched a major development project to supply rural municipalities with water for human consumption, irrigation and cattle rearing.

Sue Yardley, senior public policy officer at Tearfund, and a member of End Water Poverty, told IPS that cost recovery is a sound principle, often necessary for sustainable water and sanitation services over time.

But it has to be applied flexibly, focusing on those that can afford to pay alongside measures to ensure that cost recovery doesn’t become a barrier to access for poor people, she added.

In its report, Food and Water Watch categorically says that entrusting water utility operations to private enterprises is an inadequate method of realising the human right to water.

The study, titled “Water = Life: How Privatisation Undermines the Human Right to Water”, shows that poor, rural communities with weak governments can better deliver safe, clean, affordable water to their residents by partnering with one another.

“Yet the same communities that struggle to access this essential resource are also vulnerable to privatisation schemes that hike up prices, and leave the poor unable to afford basic water services,” says Food and Water Watch’s Executive Director Wenonah Hauter.

While privatised water service has been shown to obstruct the human right to water, research shows that municipalities can deliver safe, affordable water to residents by pooling resources in public-public partnerships (PUPs).

According to the study, PUPs can mitigate price increases and allow communities to avoid other problems associated with privatised water service because they eliminate the profit margin that is mandatory in privatised water delivery.

Mundia Matongo, policy and research officer at WaterAid Zambia and a member of End Water Poverty, told IPS, “Just to be clear, the general understanding is that water is both a social and economic good.”

As such, she said, it should be available first as a matter of right, and then that supply should be sustainable, which entails the users paying the right price. Too low a price would mean the supply won’t be sustained.

Taking the Zambian case as an example, she said, the water pricing model is based on a cross subsidy, with the rich paying for the poor.

“And I would say that there needs to be much closer regulation and enforcement of correct pricing plans,” she added.

“What we also find is that those communities most marginalised, such as families living in informal settlements, are forced to pay huge and poverty-inducing costs for water by unscrupulous government contracted firms or private suppliers – even in emerging economy countries such as India.”

This is absolutely not acceptable and the United Nations and its member states must ensure this ends by ensuring practical and funded country plans for water access, Matongo declared.

(END)

Deadline for comments Thursday, August 4th: Tell US EPA to set strong new standards to limit mercury, arsenic and other poisons in air, water, food supply

KEEP TOXIC MERCURY OUT OF OUR AIR & WATER Time is running out to ask the EPA to set strong new standards to limit mercury, arsenic and other poisons in our air, water and food supply. The deadline to submit public comments on these crucial standards is Thursday, August 4th. Strong standards will help save tens of thousands of lives each year and save Americans money, but Big Coal is pulling out all the stops to weaken them. Please hurry! We’re less than 6,000 comments away from our goal of sending 30,000 comments by Thursday.

Please tell the EPA you want strong mercury standards to protect our health, not weak standards to protect Big Coal’s bottom line.

To whom it may concern,

I am writing as a concerned citizen to urge you to set strong standards limiting the amount of mercury released by energy companies. For decades, coal-fired power plants have been polluting our air with dangerous levels of mercury. By setting the first-ever national standards for mercury pollution, we can take a huge step towards reducing further damage to our health and environment.

Lobbyists from coal-fueled energy companies are attempting to use their vast resources to mislead the public about this rule and portray it as an initiative that will kill jobs and destroy the economy. I stand with thousands of other informed advocates who know that this is irresponsible and untrue: for every $1 spent on these measures, the American taxpayer will see $13 in benefits.

Furthermore, it’s estimated that strong standards will help prevent 17,000 premature deaths each year. You have the opportunity to save lives. I urge you to stand strong against pressure from energy companies and the elected officials in their debt, and instead keep the health of the American public and our environment as your number one interest as you develop limits for mercury pollution.

Thank you in advance for protecting us from these dangerous chemicals.

8/2/2011 Gallup Independent: Morgan, AG caught in prosecutor's net: Complaint alleges Morgan manipulated position; attorneys general interfered with prosecution

8/2/2011 Gallup Independent: Morgan, AG caught in prosecutor’s net: Complaint alleges Morgan manipulated position; attorneys general interfered with prosecution By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan “unlawfully manipulated his position” to encourage other delegates to award approximately $50,000 in discretionary funds to Morgan’s family members, according to the complaint filed last week by Special Prosecutor Alan Balaran alleging breach of fiduciary responsibility. In addition to the charge against Morgan and almost all 88 delegates of the 21st Navajo Nation Council, former Attorney General Louis Denetsosie and current Attorney General Harrison Tsosie are alleged to have breached their fiduciary and ethical duties in regard to defending former President Joe Shirley Jr. against the special prosecutor’s investigation into OnSat Network Communications Inc.

Shirley and Controller Mark Grant are alleged to have breached their fiduciary duties by causing a financial loss to the Navajo Nation of $36 million during fiscal years 2005 through 2010. Grant also is alleged to have allowed the accumulation of almost $2 million in “unreimbursed salary and travel advances” for delegates; failed to regularly pay taxes to the IRS on those advances; and then failed to reimburse the IRS pursuant to agreement.

SPEAKER MORGAN
According to the 68-page complaint, the unlawfully appropriated funds were funneled through the “Discretionary Fund” administered by the Office of the Speaker for delegates’ discretionary use, with Morgan’s share amounting to $1.6 million.

During FY 2005 and 2006, there were no policies or procedures in place establishing eligibility criteria or limiting the amounts to be awarded. In February 2007, Council adopted guidelines which prohibited Morgan from giving more than $300 to any one beneficiary within a 12-month period and limited that assistance to burial costs, youth allowance or emergency funds. The policies and procedures also required that each beneficiary receive an IRS Form 1099, however, one month after adopting the initial policy, delegates eliminated that requirement, the complaint states.

Delegates allegedly gave more than $2 million to 130 recipients “with little regard for the beneficiary’s indigency,” in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $54,000,” while family members of 14 delegates received assistance ranging from $51,000 to $130,000. “Beyond this, millions in awards went to Navajo Nation employees despite their obvious ineligibility. Twenty-one of these employees received amounts ranging from $10,000 to $21,000 each.”

The complaint alleges that despite the restrictions, Morgan made multiple awards to the same recipients during a 12-month period; awarded sums vastly exceeding the $300 limit; and issued checks to himself under the names of Morgan or Speaker, as well as to his family and staff. He also is alleged to have used discretionary money to pay legal bills and to subsidize rodeo events.

Acting in concert with other delegates, Morgan “unlawfully manipulated his position to encourage other delegates to award discretionary funds to his wife, sister, daughter and grandson” amounting to approximately $50,000.

Morgan and delegates also appropriated money to a “Charitable Contribution Fund,” limited to non-employees of the Navajo Nation. Expenditures from that fund, which were at Morgan’s sole discretion, amounted to almost $2 million, according to the complaint. Balaran cited Morgan’s financial adviser, Laura Calvin, as example. Though Calvin was a tribal employee and ineligible to receive discretionary or Charitable Contribution funds, “Morgan regularly awarded her thousands of dollars from both funds and donated considerable ‘charitable’ contributions” to her daughter.

He also expended the “charitable” appropriations to donate funds to the political campaigns of those delegates he favored, the complaint states, and awarded approximately $10,000 to himself as well as $300,000 to unnamed individuals and organizations under the guise of being “contributions.”

ATTORNEYS GENERAL
In August 2008, President Shirley signed legislation approving $500,000 to the Speaker’s Office to hire a special investigator to investigate matters involving OnSat and BCDS, or Biochemical Decontamination Systems Inc. A little over a year later, in October 2009, Council placed Shirley on administrative leave and referred reports on OnSat and BCDS to Attorney General Louis Denetsosie, who was to decide whether to hire a special prosecutor to look into matters.

Shirley said the action appeared to be in retaliation for his efforts to seek an initiative election to reduce Council from 88 to 24 delegates, and to allow the president line-item veto authority. The initiative was approved in December 2009.

According to the complaint, the Nation entered into the contract with OnSat in 2001, which was before Shirley came into office. But what began as a commendable effort to provide affordable Internet service via satellite to the Nation soon transformed into an elaborate scheme to defraud the federal government out of millions of dollars and unlawfully enrich OnSat officials.

The Nation subsequently hired two law firms to investigate and file reports on their findings regarding the Navajo contract with OnSat and E-rate funding. “Both of those reports suggested that Defendant Shirley did not act ethically, violated Navajo procurement laws and may have been a participant in criminal activities.”

In late December 2009, Denetsosie asked the Special Division of Window Rock District Court to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the tribe’s contracts with OnSat and BCDS, as well as payments from the discretionary fund to family members of several legislative branch employees. Balaran was named special prosecutor in January 2010.

Around Dec. 7, 2009, then-Deputy Attorney General Harrison Tsosie executed a contract on behalf of Denetsosie retaining the legal services of Gallagher & Kennedy which would represent Shirley in his official capacity with respect to all matters arising from the president’s suspension by Council.

The contract was modified four times, with Denetsosie signing one modification and Tsosie signing the other three. On Feb. 25, 2010, Gallagher & Kennedy submitted an invoice labeled “re: Appointment of Special Prosecutor.” This was followed by eight subsequent invoices between May 24, 2010, and Dec. 14, 2010, with each referencing work regarding the special prosecutor’s appointment.

“These invoices described the work performed by up to five associates and partners charged with defending Defendant Shirley against the Special Prosecutor’s investigation into OnSat.” The Nation was billed approximately $150,000 for those services, with the most recent payment approved by Tsosie in March 2011.

The complaint alleges that both Denetsosie and Tsosie lacked authority to impede the investigation of the special prosecutor and by doing so, acted outside the scope of their employment and/or authority. In addition, by using Navajo Nation funds to obstruct the prosecutorial efforts of the special prosecutor, they are alleged to have breached their fiduciary and ethical duties.

8/2/2011 Forgotten People HPL residents request Safe Drinking Water

Re: Forgotten People and Hopi Partition Land (HPL) residents request for Safe Drinking Water Delivery on top of Black Mesa, in Black Mesa, Cactus Valley, Big Mountain, Star Mountain, Jeddito Island and throughout HPL: From: Caroline Tohannie, Board of Director, Norris Nez, Board of Director, Lucy Knorr, Sec’y/Treasurer, Rena Babbitt Lane, Pauline Whitesinger, Leonard Benally, Carlos Begay, Sr., Hopi Partition Land, Navajo Nation, AZ: Via Email To: Ed Becenti: rezztone@yahoo.com For: President Ben Shelly, The Navajo Nation Venue: Forest Lake Chapter Town Hall Meeting Dated: August 2, 2011: Dear President Shelly: We are blessed that last night as the Board of Directors met to discuss how Hopi Partition Land residents can get access to safe drinking water, Pauline Whitesinger, an elderly matriarch from Big Mountain joined Caroline Tohannie, Rena Babbitt Lane, Carlos W. Begay, Sr. and Leonard Benally to compel the Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly to work with Ed Becenti, Forgotten People’s Window Rock liaison, Forgotten People, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Navajo Department of Water Resources to include safe drinking water delivery on HPL to the US EPA Navajo Nation Pilot Project Feasibility Study and compel the Hopi Tribe to sign off so the Navajo Nation can implement their fiduciary trust responsibility and provide HPL residents with access to safe drinking water and impassable dirt road repair.

Forgotten People is a nonprofit grassroots organization active within the former Bennett Freeze and Hopi Partition Land. We represent communities that span over 2 million acres of remote desert terrain in the northeastern part of Arizona including Hopi Partition Land communities impacted by forced relocation by the US government and Peabody Coal Company’s mining operations. Most of the members practice a subsistence lifestyle of herding sheep. Many elderly community members speak only Dine’.

Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain speaks: We want to participate in a water hauling project. The wells throughout HPL have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed and the natural water source near me is contaminated and unregulated. When I drink the water it hurts my throat and I have a reaction when I swallow it and get sick. I have no vehicle and have no access to safe drinking water. My livestock are thirsty. We are living under a State of Emergency! We are endangered, denied access to water, forced to travel over unpassable dirt roads and endure violations during our ceremonies that the Hopi Tribe says requires a permit to conduct. There are other water sources near me and they are all denied to me for my use. When I was offering a sacrament to the water the Hopi told me to leave the water alone, it does not belong to me. I speak on behalf of my people. We have brought our case and our words (as attached) to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner (see link for UN OHCHR website), Congressional, federal, and tribal forums advocating for our human right to water and sanitation.

Caroline Tohannie, Black Mesa speaks: Our springs were our wetlands with cat tails and other wetlands growth. But they are no longer here. This is where we make offerings and get our healing medicine like cat tails or wreaths for ceremonial purposes. These are our sacred sites. The BIA made wells that had concrete covers and manual pumps. But BIA Rangers came around and disassembled them, taking the pumps out, unscrewing parts, taking off pipes. All the windmills in our region were capped off by the BIA. At first one windmill was capped off but we could reopen it at first but then found the BIA welded the cover shut with dirt over the well opening. There was no longer any way to get water from the well. At another windmill in the area, the BIA disassembled the windmill pump so it would not work. We have been fenced and capped off from access to water. This has created many problems for living things, even insects that need water, animals, birds and people. These tactics are being done to force us off our land so Peabody Coal Company can expand their mining operations.

Caroline and Bert Tohannie and Rena Babbitt Lane live on top of Black Mesa along the route of Peabody Coal Company’s coal slurry pipeline. Billions of gallons of pristine Navajo Aquifer water flowed under their homes but they have no access to water, no emergency access and their vehicles break down traveling long distances over un-passable dirt roads.

Hosteen Nez Begay in Cactus Valley lives 1/8 mile from a water well that has been dismantled for since the 1980’s when the US Bureau of Indian Affiars started dismantling, bulldozing, fencing off water wells. Hosteen has to travel 30 miles each way over rough dirt roads from Cactus Valley to Peabody’s public drinking water stand observing chunks of coal in their drinking water.

Carlos W. Begay in Black Mesa says: In the summer of 1998, on Glenna Begay’s land, Peabody Coal Company installed a sediment pond for contaminated runoff a few yards away from sacred Sagebrush spring planted there by Medicine people. This spring contains a year-round drinking water resource. Bitter Spring in the area, containing a source of water for our animals was bulldozed and Peabody installed a water pump there for the slurry line and a dam to flush the water pipeline. The people and the livestock are thirsty.

These Forgotten People are suffering great hardship and request replication of the Black Falls/Box Springs project to prioritize HPL safe drinking water delivery points and grading of dirt roads and investigate capped off, bulldozed and fenced off water wells throughout HPL.

Forgotten People prays the Navajo Nation President and central government will receive guidance from James W. Zion, Esq.’s application of Fundamental Laws upheld by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court that the land, property, resources and income generated from them are the property of the Navajo People.

Forgotten People compels the Navajo Nation President to work with the Hopi Tribe so they will allow the Navajo Nation to provide HPL residents safe drinking water, livestock water sources and road repair.

On May 6, 2009, President Obama signed legislation HR 956 and S531 to repeal the portion of Public Law 93-531 (The Relocation Act) to lift the Freeze on all Navajo and Hopi lands (including HPL). Unfortunately, this did not address the extensive impact this law had on our people. While the Freeze has halted essential construction, including power line extensions, waterline extensions, and improvements to roads and community facilities, no rehabilitation program was developed to address the effects of the Freeze including access to water and sanitation for water haulers.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is involved in a major effort to improve access to safe water on the Navajo Nation and redress problems resulting from the legacy of uranium mining in the 1950s and 60’s as a result of two pressures. The EPA made a commitment at the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, pledging to reduce the number of its citizens lacking access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 50% by 2015. The largest concentration of people without piped water and sanitation is on the Navajo Nation, especially in the HPL communities.

Forgotten People believes reaching our goals will require collaboration with the Navajo Nation President and the central government using a human rights centered approach to development. Forgotten People believes this collaboration will provide tangible improvements for our communities.

Wars of the future will be fought over water, as they are over oil today, as our ‘Blue Gold’, the source of human survival, enters the global marketplace. We pray, you will understand that here, water is the most precious of all resources and our water rights must not be waived and minimized in a Water Rights Settlement when our local water sources have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed by the US government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Without water we cannot survive and our livestock cannot survive and we must for our future generations and our continued way of life.

We need immediate action to stop corporate favoritism. While the Navajo Nation allows corporations to export energy, HPL residents are hauling water by small barrels, drinking contaminated water and have not a drop of water to drink.

The Dinè people do not get power from the NGS. It goes to Phoenix and Tucson and other cities. There is a fundamental unfairness and lack of information on the Navajo Nation. The issues addressed by Forgotten People’s highlight the need for strengthening and implementing cross-cutting principles in international human rights law. This is needed by the Navajo Nation in considering a draft Energy policy.

As members of civil society, Forgotten People affirms the right to development and transparency and enforcement of the Navajo Nation’s fiduciary trust responsibility to provide goods and services to HPL residents. Public health is threatened. To implement ‘Water Without Boarders” for endangered water haulers, we pray you will work with Ed Becenti and Forgotten People so we can sustain our lives.

Respectfully submitted,

Norris Nez, Hathalie, Board of Director, Coal Mine
Caroline Tohannie, Board of Director, Black Mesa
Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain
Rena Babbitt Lane, Black Mesa
Carlos W. Begay, Sr., Black Mesa
Leonard Benally, Big Mountain
Lucy Knorr, Sec’y/Treasurer
Marsha Monesterky, Program Director
On behalf of Forgotten People with the Support of Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls residents

Copy: Clancy Tenley, Assistant Director, US EPA Superfund: tenley.clancy@epamail.epa.gov
Najam Tariq, Navajo Department of Water Resources: najamhtariq1@hotmail.com
James W. Zion, Esq., Attorney for Forgotten People JZion@aol.com

7/30/2011 Phoenix Business Journal: Navajo, SRP wind farm prove Arizona not just a solar state

7/30/2011 Phoenix Business Journal: Navajo, SRP wind farm prove Arizona not just a solar state – by Patrick O’Grady: Arizona has lots of sun, but somehow when it comes to renewable energy, wind seems to be an afterthought. Except for the fact that wind companies seem to really like northern Arizona. This week’s announcement of a pending deal between the Navajo Tribal Authority, Edison Mission EnergybizWatch Edison Mission Energy Latest from The Business Journals RETA: Wind farms need transmission connectionsBuckhead CID chief leaving after 10 yearsMirant close to naming new CEO Follow this company and Salt River Project just keeps adding to it. The deal would have SRP buy wind power from the Navajo’s first project, a 85-megawatt facility named Boquillas Ranch to be built in the northeastern part of the state. The wind farm would be owned by the Navajo Nation.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the Navajo Nation, NTUA and Edison Mission Energy on this major new wind project in Arizona. The Boquillas Wind Project could be an important addition to SRP’s continuing pursuit of new renewable-energy resources,” said John Coggins, SRP’s manager of resource planning and development. “If agreed to, our customers will benefit from a wind resource with zero-fuel costs and zero emissions while the state and the Navajo Nation will benefit from the jobs needed to build and operate this facility in Arizona.”

The deal is still pending, but all three entities think it will come to fruition.

SRP has been a big believer in wind energy. The utility has 310 megawatts currently under contract or in production. That includes 127 megawatts at the Dry Lake Wind Project already producing power and another 99 megawatts at the Yavapai wind project that are still in planning.

The Navjo deal is about an average size wind farm for those coming on line in Arizona, and the state is in no danger of threatening Texas or Iowa for the leadership in wind energy. Still, for a state known mostly for its solar energy it is drawing attention from wind developers, for instance, has a plan for a potential 425-megawatt wind farm on public land in northern Arizona.

The Bureau of Land Management in Arizona, for instance, has eight pending projects on its list totaling more than 120,000 acres. That doesn’t include potential private-land projects such as the 99-megawatt NextEra Energy Resources plant near Williams that will supply power to Arizona Public Service Co. bizWatch

8/1/2011 US EPA News Release: EPA enters into agreement with Chevron to investigate soil contamination at uranium mine on the Navajo Reservation

8/1/2011 US EPA News Release: EPA enters into agreement with Chevron to investigate soil contamination at uranium mine on the Navajo Reservation: Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (415) 947-4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov: SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement with Chevron USA Inc. to investigate radium-contaminated soil at the Mariano Lake Mine site, a former uranium mine located on the Navajo Nation near Gallup, New Mexico. The agreement is the latest result of an ongoing effort by EPA and Navajo Nation to address contamination from the legacy of uranium mining in the Navajo Nation.

Under the agreement, Chevron will conduct a radiological survey and sample radium-contaminated soil throughout the 31-acre Mariano Lake Mine site and surrounding area, including 10 residences and two nearby water wells. Chevron also agreed to pay EPA’s oversight costs.

“This investigation is part of EPA’s commitment to help the Navajo Nation deal with the significant impacts of historic uranium mining,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Region. “We are working to make sure that every responsible party takes the steps needed to protect Navajo families from radioactive contamination.”

Ben Shelly, Navajo Nation President, said, “On behalf of the communities in and around Mariano Lake, I extend my sincere appreciation for the agreement today between the U.S. EPA and Chevron. I look forward to the data that will be generated in this investigation, and I respectfully request U.S. EPA to understand our desires for the most protective clean up plans that will help restore harmony in our communities and homes. This type of agreement will continue to help us as we work to correct the harmful legacy of past uranium mining and milling on the Navajo Nation.”

EPA and the Navajo EPA will oversee field work, which will include construction of a fence and application of a sealant to contaminated soils where people live, work and play while the investigation is carried out. The order also requires Chevron to post signs, lock gates and prevent livestock from getting into areas of known contamination prior to cleanup.

The Mariano Lake Mine site operated as a uranium ore mine from approximately 1977 to 1982, and includes one 500-foot deep shaft, waste piles, and several surface ponds. Exposure to elevated levels of radium over a long period of time can result in anemia, cataracts, fractured teeth, and cancer, especially bone cancer.

Chevron is the fifth responsible party that EPA has required to take actions at former uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. EPA’s work with Navajo Nation to identify and enforce against responsible parties is part of a 5-year plan to address the problem, which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region9/superfund/navajo-nation/

8/1/2011 Common Dreams: Record High Radiation at Crippled Japan Nuke Plant

8/1/2011 Common Dreams: Record High Radiation at Crippled Japan Nuke Plant: TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said Monday it had monitored record high radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crippled by the March 11 quake and tsunami. TEPCO said radiation levels reached at least 10 sieverts per hour near the debris left between the number one and number two reactors of the plant at the center of the ongoing nuclear crisis. The previous record was three to four sieverts per hour monitored inside the number one reactor on June 3.

“Three plant workers were exposed to a dosage of four millisieverts while they were monitoring radiation,” a TEPCO spokeswoman said. “We are still checking the cause of such high levels of radioactivity.”

The government and TEPCO say they remain on target to bring the reactors to a safe state of cold shutdown by January at the latest now that a water circulation system has been established.

Efforts to stabilize the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago have continued since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami, sparking reactor meltdowns at the plant and spewing radiation into the environment.

The government has said radiation levels around the plant, which lies 220 kilometers (136 miles) from Tokyo, had fallen to “two-millionths” of the peak recorded March 15.

Tens of thousands of people remain evacuated from homes, businesses and farms in a no-go zone around the plant.

© 2011 Agence France-Presse