Category Archives: Peabody Coal Company

7/1/2011 Navajo Nation Public Hearing on Energy Policy

Public comments on the Navajo Nation Energy policy are welcome through July 31st, and should be sent in writing to Michelle — michelle@navajonationmuseum.org. Navajo Nation Public Hearing on Energy Policy By Anthony Fleg, Native Health Initiative: The location for last night’s public hearing on the Navajo Nation’s proposed energy policy was fitting for political theatrics – held at the UNM Student Union Building’s theater, the stage was set for Navajo Nation officials to make their case for the energy policy as currently drafted. The document at the center of discussion was the draft of the Navajo Nation Energy Policy, completed June 20th, 2011 (see copy of draft here). The UNM meeting was the last of the public hearings on the policy, meetings meant to gather public input on the draft. The Attorney General for the Navajo Nation, Harrison Tsosie, reminded the audience that this document was not a law, regulation or statute. “Instead, this policy is to serve as a vision statement for Navajo leaders and for the outside world, to then guide future decisions and laws and to ensure that in the future the Federal Government is not deciding the direction of our Dine’ people.”

There have been four prior attempts to develop such an energy policy by the Navajo Nation, with the only document that made it past draft stage being the 1980 policy. The current administration, under President Ben Shelly has made energy policy a priority.

The document supports development of renewable energy, with Navajo Nation officials admitting that in the past years there has been no clear direction, and therefore, no significant strides in this realm.

Coal and uranium appear to be the biggest points of contention in the draft policy, judging from the audience members who spoke during the public response section of the hearing.

In terms of coal, the current draft supports a coal-driven energy future for the Navajo Nation, stating, “The Nation will plan for a future that includes coal as a key component of the Nation’s energy mix…[and] will seek to shape federal fossil fuel regulation.” (Section 7)

Mario Atencio of Dine’ CARE (Coalition Against Ruining our Environment) stated that coal has no place in the energy future of the Navajo Nation, adding that he was concerned that the Navajo Green Energy Commission was not included in the drafting of the policy.

Juan Reynosa of the Sierra Club, following Mario to the microphone, seconded the opinion. “This is our opportunity to transition away from coal, switching to renewable resources. Juan talked about his work to push for tighter regulations on the Four Corners Power Plant, pointing out the un-tapped potential that wind and solar energy have in this region.

Nuclear energy and uranium is also addressed in the document with a recognition of the current ban on uranium mining that the Navajo Nation has adopted. “The Navajo Nation, nonetheless will continue to monitor uranium mining technologies and techniques…to assess the safety, viability, and potential of these activities for the future.” (Section 9).

Norman Patrick Brown of the Dine’ Bidziil (The People’s Strength) stated simply, “I don’t trust this policy. Our past shows us that energy infrastructure has been devastating to our land, our health and our way of life.” He said that from a traditional perspective, talking to Medicine Men, “I have yet to meet one person who supports any extraction from our Mother Earth of these materials.”

Additionally, there was obvious concern about those who spoke from the audience about the transparency of the process to create the draft, and at this point, the process of allowing public input to affect the final version of the document. A writer from the Navajo Times asked a pointed question to this later point – “How do you plan to share the public’s thoughts from these meetings that have been held?” Translating the answer from politico speak, it appears that the comments and written testimony will be compiled and made available on the Navajo Nation website. I could not find the policy or comments on the Navajo Nation website at the time of this article.

Public comments on the policy are welcome through July 31st, and should be sent in writing to Michelle — michelle@navajonationmuseum.org.

6/20/2011 DRAFT Navajo Nation Energy Policy-Please submit comments

Please check out the Navajo Nation DRAFT Energy Policy. The Navajo Nation believes coal and coal-fired plants are a significant component of the Navajo economy and the Nation’s revenues. Please send comments to michelle@navajonationmuseum.org . The draft Navajo Nation energy policy is available for download at www.navajo-nsn.gov

6/28/2011 Gallup Independent: Coal key part of Navajo draft energy policy

6/28/2011 Gallup Independent: Coal key part of Navajo draft energy policy By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau NEHAHNEZAD, N.M – The Navajo Nation has unveiled a draft energy policy that includes coal as a key component of the Nation’s energy mix while not closing the door to future uranium mining and nuclear power. Members of Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly’s Energy Advisory Committee unveiled the draft energy policy June 22 at Nenahnezad Chapter. A public meeting is set for 6-9 p.m. Wednesday at Howard Johnson in Gallup, and 6-9 p.m. Thursday at the UNM Student Union, SUB Theater, in Albuquerque. Additional public meetings were held last week in Shonto, Cameron and Phoenix. “We have an energy policy that was adopted by the Navajo Nation Council in 1980 and then from that period of time there have been various policies that have been developed by different administrations,” Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said. “Some of those policies were presented to the Navajo Nation Council but never approved.” The new draft also will be presented to Council and if adopted, Shelly’s initiative will be the framework for future Navajo energy development.

“We think this is important. It’s the livelihood of the Navajo Nation,” Fred White, executive director of the Division of Natural Resources, said.

Coal and coal-fired plants are a significant component of the Navajo economy and the Nation’s revenues, according to the draft. As a coal producer that derives a significant amount of royalties, rent, fees, jobs and tax revenue from coal mining and production of electricity from coal, the Nation will seek to shape federal fossil fuel legislation and adapt to the new federal regulatory environment, it states.

In addition, Navajo will support newer and more efficient coal technologies being developed which lessen environmental impacts and maximize the efficient use of Navajo coal. The Nation also will continue to develop a renewable portfolio of power generating facilities that balances coal-fired generation and renewable energy generation, and will evaluate the appropriateness of implementing a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

Section 9, on nuclear matters, states that the Nation currently supports a ban on uranium mining in Navajo Indian Country. “The Nation nonetheless will continue to monitor uranium mining technologies and techniques, as well as market conditions for uranium mining and nuclear electricity generation to assess the safety, viability and potential of these activities for the future.”

Michele Morris, Shelly’s director for Policy and Management, said, “Right now we are not entertaining any new development in uranium. President Shelly and Vice President (Rex Lee) Jim’s priority for the administration currently is to comply with our existing law, which is the moratorium on uranium mining. Our goal is to comply with that until the public or the Council – the bodies that be – make the decision to change that decision.”

The Navajo Nation approved the Dine Natural Resources Protection Act in 2005 banning uranium mining and processing within reservation borders. Nearly 4 million tons of uranium ore was extracted from 1944 to 1986 under lease agreements with the Navajo Nation. In 2007, with the help of a congressional committee, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency became the lead federal agency in a five-year plan to clean up more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, contaminated groundwater and structures, and a former radioactive dump site. Emergency cleanup action has begun at three abandoned mines while assessments continue.

The draft energy policy calls for the Nation to establish energy corridors to manage the impact on Navajo communities resulting from future electrical transmission, pipeline and railroad infrastructure. This new infrastructure will provide Navajo an opportunity to unlock the value of its vast energy resources by providing transmission corridors to metropolitan centers.

A Navajo Energy Office made up of Executive Branch officials selected by the president is proposed to be established to act as a clearinghouse for energy-related projects and to facilitate energy development. A budget also must be appropriated.

White said that that last spring the Nation decided to re-energize the energy policy planning process. In partnership with the Department of Energy, an Energy Efficiency grant was obtained and a scope of work developed. Sandia National Laboratory was asked to facilitate meetings with stakeholders. Meetings were held in July, September and October with industries focused on fossil fuels and renewables, as well as Navajo leaders and individuals concerned about the environment.

A chronological order of energy decisions dating to 1923-24 as developed. They looked at work done in the 1970s that resulted in an Energy Policy adopted by the tribal Council in 1980, work done by former President Peterson Zah in the early 1990s that resulted in an energy policy statement, and work done by White’s predecessor, Arvin Trujillo.

But last October they hit a wall, bogged down by election year politics. “Nobody was interested in talking about energy policy,” White said. It was put on hold until the new administration and the 24-member Council settled in.

“The decision was to take the policy from the ’80s that was already adopted by Council and use that format and make amendments to it,” White said.

Steven Gundersen of Tallsalt Advisors in Scottsdale is serving as a consultant on development of the policy. Gundersen presented the draft to a small but curious audience at Nenahnezad, some of whom drove at least four hours from Cameron to hear the presentation.

“The policies are intended to be rather brief and rather broad,” he said. “The energy policies are directions we want to move in but are not laws.”

Tsosie said comments received from the public are “suggestions” that will be reviewed but not necessarily included in the document. “The reason for that is that the Navajo people elected certain representatives to establish policy for them and that body is the Navajo Nation Council and the president of the Navajo Nation. So this policy-setting effort is under delegation from the people to those elected officials.

“We are drafting the policy pursuant to those delegations. We’re not actually making laws. These will not be codified in the Navajo Nation Code, but it’s a document that we will use in making decisions regarding energy development on the Navajo Nation,” he said. Council first must rescind the 1980 Energy Policy.

Citing the preamble to the proposed policy, Gundersen said the Nation is establishing the energy policy to protect its natural resources and assets for the benefit of the Dine to create a self-sustaining economic future and to ensure sovereign control over the extraction and flow of resources.

Lease rent, royalty rates and charges for easements and rights of way will be equal to or greater than fair market value. When negotiating renewals, the Nation will maximize the total value of consideration. Project developers will be required to return the land to its original condition, or better, at the end of the project.

The Nation hopes to maximize revenues from large-scale energy developments by promoting Navajo majority ownership, but may designate an entity such as Navajo Tribal Utility Authority as its representative. Communities impacted by energy development will have the opportunity to provide input, and where adversely impacted, to share in a portion of the financial benefits of such projects.

Members of the Energy Advisory Committee include White, Tsosie, Raymond Benally, Stephen B. Etsitty, Martin Ashley, Akhtar Zaman, Albert Damon, Raymond Maxx, Mike Halona and Irma Roanhorse. Michele Henry is the administrator for the Energy Advisory Committee and Energy Office.

Deadline for comment originally was scheduled for July 15, but Morris said they are adding four town hall meetings and extending the comment period to the end of July. There is no deadline mentioned in the announcement from the Navajo Energy Office and no schedule posted on the new meetings. Comments may be sent to michelle@navajonationmuseum.org . The policy is available for download at www.navajo-nsn.gov .

Forgotten People pull out of Navajo Generating Station (NGS) EN3 meetings

http://en3pro.com/ Forgotten People pull out Friday, March 18th, 2011: Forgotten People decided after much thought and discussion to join all the grassroots and environmental organizations pulling out of the NGS EN3 process. Instead, we will all spend Friday, March 25th together to discuss our next steps to ensure US EPA Clean Air, BART compliance and a transition to renewable energy. Forgotten People does not want to be used as a “checklist” for community input to stall US EPA BART regulations. As directly affected people we see NO real timeline for a transition to renewable energy on the table, NO serious community input in your processes, no series of community tours to allow real input, NO response to our United Nations case submitted 3/1/2011 for the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation…

From the beginning of our participation in this process, we have clearly stated our goal and objective for a transition time line to clean energy.

Unfortunately what we see is a process that seeks to keep the NGS running and stall US EPA Clean Air regs. What the NGS owners and stakeholders will miss seeing first hand on a community tour is significant: Coal dust over Black Mesa, desecrated cemeteries, burial and sacred site desecration, open graves marked by archeologists stakes, people who do not know where their family members are buried in areas that were mined, dismantled wells, water sources degraded and diminished like sacred Sagebrush Spring, people living without electricity and piped water, and impassable, ungraded dirt roads that Peabody refused to grade under a Navajo Nation State of Emergency. It is for these reasons that the people cannot afford to be used to keep the NGS operating. We strongly believe the time for burning fossil fuels is coming to an end and it is time to consider the health of the people and the environment.

Please check out Forgotten People’s case submitted to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 3/1/2011.

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Please check out Forgotten People’s PowerPoint Presentation on the NGS website: Forgotten People and NGS – Securing Economic & Climate Justice

Forgotten People NGS PowerPoint Presentation link.

Please check out the US EPA News Release: EPA Proposes First National Standard for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants / Mercury and air toxics standards represent one of strongest health protections from air pollution since passage of Clean Air Act

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Category: NGS Project
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