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Some Look Forward to Mine Closing

Some Look Forward to Mine Closing
April 11
10:04 2017

Some Navajos aren’t upset by the prospect of the Kayenta Coal Mine shutting down.

Some residents around the Peabody strip mining area on Black Mesa have long complained about other issues caused by the coal mining operation.

Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates met with community members at the Forest Lake Chapter at the end of March and got an earful from some residents.

Residents – like Rose Yazzie – were upset that all the focus surrounding the possible closure of the Navajo Generating Station centered on jobs to be lost and falling revenue.

Yazzie said she has had to live with the dust created by three shifts of mine workers driving up and down the road. She said the reaction she got from Window Rock officials when she broached the subject was basically, “Why don’t you just move?”

The looming closure of NGS would lead to the closure of the Kayenta mine, which supplies the coal for the generating station.

Many in the community – including Yazzie’s grandchildren – had to move away because of asthma and other respiratory ailments from living near a coal mine.

Some of the miners have died from black lung disease, she added.

When Bates mentioned that he was impressed with Peabody’s clean-up efforts around the mine, Yazzie challenged him to take a horseback ride around the remote areas with her.
Other community members said that Peabody never cleaned up its Black Mesa Mine and the abandoned buildings have become home to rats and snakes.

“When Bates speaks up about NGS and the Kayenta mine he needs to speak on behalf of all the people,” resident Germaine Simmon added.

Instead of focusing on keeping coal mining jobs, tribal leaders should be looking at ways to save jobs by converting from coal energy to solar energy, residents said.

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