Navahos resist polluting coal plants

The Four Corners area of New Mexico already has two enormous coal-burning power plants, the Four Corners Power Plant and the San Juan Generating Station. They are located in an impoverished area of mostly Navaho Native Americans. The pollution is already bad. Now a transnational company wants to build yet another plant there and dispose of the wastes, including highly toxic mercury, on site.

How do you like your fried-bread?

Warm and fresh with a hint of cedar or
Dry and dark covered in ash and mercury??

Dooda Desert Rock Committee Member, HK DIXON

The Navaho are fighting back, saying the transnational is drilling without permission or permits.

On Dec. 12, Navajo elder Alice Gilmore, resident Elouise Brown and other people who oppose the plant confronted Desert Rock employees who were drilling without permission or even notification on land permitted to Gilmore for grazing purposes. Navajo elders from all the adjacent chapters of the area responded to this outrage, joining Gilmore in her fight.

Gilmore and the other resisters insisted that the company present documents proving that it had permission to drill there. The Desert Rock project is still in the environmental review process. At this stage, the Clean Air Act requires permits for drilling activity.

When company officials and tribal police refused to provide these documents, the peopleâ┚¬â€comprised mostly of elderly women and their childrenâ┚¬â€formed a blockade, denying passage down the road to the remote site.

Most of the power generated by both plants goes out of state. Thus, New Mexico and the Navaho get little in return for the coal plants being there except toxic emissions. This is a familiar pattern, highly polluting sites are located in impoverished areas with what is being produced going to more affluent areas. (Much of it goes to southern California.)

Desert Rock Blog reports on what’s happening, it was created by Navaho resisters who are fighting the new plant.

Coal is a grotesquely polluting way to create electricity. Not only does it spew pollution and toxins, it also requires large areas be strip-mined for the coal, thus increasing environment degradation. Plus, the power in New Mexico is sent across hundreds of miles of power lines, and loses about 10%, I believe, during transmission, yet another wasteful component of the process. We need to find better, less polluting, ways to create electricity than coal – and do it quickly.