Time for a Just Transition to a better future on the Rez

For years, the Navajo and Hopi people made major sacrifices to enable the Mojave Generating Station to operate. The people provided labor, coal, pristine N-Aquifer water and bore the burden of pollution. Now that the facility has closed, we have a right to ask the owners of Mojave to help us make the transition to a better future, to repay the debt.

Recently, grassroots Navajo, Hopi and non-native partner organizations came together to ensure that the closure directly leads to new investment and good, clean jobs for the tribal community. State officials in California and tribal leaders are currently considering our "Just Transition Plan". Here's what you need to know about the proposal:

The Just Transition Coalition submitted a plan to California energy regulators recently in an effort to secure around $20 million dollars a year until 2026 from Southern California Edison for a long-term invest towards the Navajo and Hopi people for a Just Transition. The Coalition looks forward to the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) giving this plan full consideration.

The Just Transition Plan is in the best interest of everyone because it will support a stronger and lasting tribal economy. In addition it will help maintain a clean and safe environment for us all.

How will the Just Transition Plan work? Funds secured from the sale of pollution credits by the primary operators of the Mohave Plant, Southern California Edison (SCE) would go to the tribes for investment in local communities through renewable energy development.

While the CPUC would secure the funds from SCE's sale of pollution credits, this plan depends on the involvement of the Navajo and Hopi Black Mesa grassroots communities in developing the final investment plan to be approved by both Navajo and Hopi grassroots communities as well as the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe.

If the Just Transition plan is approved by the CPUC, SCE will deposit their funds into an escrow account from the sale of pollution credits they will be able to cash in from Mohave's closure.

Once both tribes approve the way the funds would be used by both tribes, the funds would be released. This innovative plan, if approved by both tribes, would help bring over $20 million to Navajo and Hopi communities to create jobs and energy through investment in wind and solar energy projects.

The Just Transition plan protects both California ratepayers as well as Navajo and Hopi communities with a promise of strong investment in renewable energy development like wind and solar. With California and Arizona recent commitments to using more wind and solar energy, the Just Transition plan will work if Mohave is shut down permanently or only temporarily.

SCE had more than six years to make the changes to Mohave and they didn't. The negotiating teams of both tribes have wasted resources and time getting nowhere. It is time for tribal leaders to stop waiting for secret negotiations and lead us towards a Just Transition.

What is the transition plan of Peabody and the Tribes? Secret negotiations. The Just Transition plan has been open and will be beneficial to everyone. It is time for a fresh plan to bring justice to Black Mesa and economic development to a people cheated out of decades of billions of dollars from lost coal and water royalties.

We urge tribal leaders to join us in making a solid plan work to bring a Just Transition to the shutdown of the Mohave Generating Station for the benefit of all and for future generations.

(Members of the Just Transition Coalition who contributed to this article include Enei Begaye of the Indigenous Environmental Network; Wahleah Johns of the Black Mesa Water Coalition; Nicole Horseherder and Marshall Johnson of To' Nizhoni Ani; and Roger Clark of Grand Canyon Trust.)

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