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Grassroots Groups Urge Navajo Leaders to Move on from Coal

Grassroots Groups Urge Navajo Leaders to Move on from Coal
May 19
14:14 2017

Now that it looks like the lease agreement between SRP and the Navajo Nation will be signed to keep the Navajo Generating Station running until 2019, Navajo grassroots groups are urging President Russell Begaye and the Navajo Nation Council to use the extension to transition to clean energy and plan for a better Navajo future.

Given the state of coal markets and the unlikelihood that the sector will ever recover, Navajo grassroots groups are urging the Navajo Nation’s leadership to take advantage of the deal to build a more sustainable economy and not squander the new retirement timeline by trying to keep the plant running past 2019.

Two groups, Diné CARE and Tó Nizhóní Ání, have been among those urging Navajo Nation leadership to transition away from coal.

“Let’s not fool ourselves — coal has zero future. The utilities rushing to get out of NGS know it, energy experts across the country know it and we know it,” said Percy Deal, of Diné CARE. “Any extension of operations on NGS beyond the deal reached will delay the Navajo Nation’s transition to a sustainable economy. We call on Navajo leaders to prioritize a transition away from coal and develop a plan that can truly save jobs, that secures out water rights for the Navajo and Hopi, and that cleans up the mess that mining and burning coal have left in our communities.”

Nicole Horseherder of Tó Nizhóní Ání said the long term health of the Nation’s economy must be a main concern, saying, “With this new extension, now is the time to plan a transition that supports the Navajo Nation long-term, investing in renewable energy and job creation, cleaning up and remediating the pollution the plant and mine have left behind, taking care of our water and environment, and addressing the health impacts our families have suffered as a result of using coal.”

The Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis issued a report last week saying it would require in the range of $2 billion in taxpayer subsidies to keep the plant afloat past 2019.

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