Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Native Americans defend their coal-fired power plant against environmentalists

The president of the Navajo Nation joined other Native American leaders this week in criticizing environmentalists for trying to shut down coal-fired power plants in northern Arizona. "These are individuals and groups who claim to have put the welfare of fish and insects above the survival of the Navajo people when in fact their only goal is to stop the use of coal in the U.S. and the Navajo Nation," Joe Shirley Jr. said, adding that the Navajo depend on the jobs and revenue brought in by the plants, Dennis Wagner of USA Today reports. (Arizona Republic photo by John Stanley)

Shirley's comments came Wednesday, after the Hopi Nation's Tribal Council sent a letter to the environmental groups telling them to stay off the reservation. An inquiry by environmental groups and some tribes into smog over the Grand Canyon pointed to the Navajo Generating Station, which with a reservation coal mine supplies more than 70 percent of the Hopis' government revenue, as a possible culprit.

Tina May, a spokeswoman for the Hopi Nation, told USA Today that a successful effort by environmentalists to shut down the Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nev., cost the tribe $6.5 million a year. She said closure of the Navajo Generating Station could cost another $11 million. "We need to make public that we don't want the environmental groups coming in and causing trouble for the Hopi tribe," Nada Talayumptewa, chairwoman of the council's energy team, said. "It's time we take a stand."

Andy Bessler, the Sierra Club's representative in the Southwest, told The Associated Press, "We need to do something about global warming, and coal is the greatest threat. ... We work with anybody who wants to help protect the environment, stop global warming and transition our economy to a clean economy. We don't discriminate, and we'll continue to honor the invitations we get from Hopi and Navajo communities to work with them." (Read more)

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