Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Mon, Jan. 25

SRP and OSM: Quit playing games with Black Mesa, C-aquifer and end all the confusion!

Feb. 15, 2007


Salt River Project (SRP) owners have decided not to pursue reopening of the Mohave Generating Station. They however, have not decided whether to sell Mohave or de-commission it.

SRP owners are paying the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to complete the Black Mesa Project (BMP) Environmental Impact Study (EIS) until SRP officials decide what to do.

The Denver OSM officials have agreed to complete the project on schedule. The EIS will be completed in late June or early July of this year. Thirty days later they plan to give Peabody a life-of-mine permit. This will help SRP find buyers of Mohave.

OSM's preferred alternative is to use water from C-aquifer as the primary source of water for coal slurry operation. However, if C-aquifer is not built for whatever reason, water from N-aquifer will become the primary source to operate the coal slurry, if it opens. Pumping will then increase by 33 percent.

This scenario gives SRP the time they need to try to sell Mohave. Mohave, old as it is, is still a valuable asset because it is still licensed or commissioned to operate. Commissioning a new plant or a decommissioned plant can take up to ten years and hundreds of millions of dollars. Siting a new coal plant in todays environment is almost impossible.

A Life-of-Mine permit gives Peabody a powerful leverage tool to pursue options, including possibly building a railroad as a mode of transportation.

If you are confused, it is because this process is designed to confuse the public.

The current EIS is confusing because it is done in piecemeal fashion. Instead of one EIS, there are two separate EIS going on in two different tracks. One is the Black Mesa Project, another is the C-aquifer pipeline project. Each project is supervised by two different government agencies, OSM and Bureau of Land Management. Both are agencies under the Department of the Interior.

OSM will finish its study before the C-aquifer EIS is completed. The C-aquifer is at the heart of their preferred alternative, yet OSM is moving quickly toward a conclusion, oblivious to public outrage over the taking of N-aquifer. This is putting the cart before the horse. C-aquifer study should be finished first if OSM intends to continue piecemealing the EIS process.

Another source of confusion is rolling two different mines, Black Mesa and Kayenta into one project and calling it the "revised" Black Mesa Project, not a new mine plan. Black Mesa Mine, unlike Kayenta, has yet to receive a Life-of-Mine permit. It continues to run on a temporary permit, so how can it be "revised"?

This cat and mouse game, can end in a win-win resolution if owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGP), Peabody, Hopi and Navajo all get together to craft an innovative global corporate-tribal business relationship and do it transparently. No more secret negotiations. No more excluding grassroots people. No more ignoring the will of the Navajo and Hopi people who are the true stakeholders and shareholders of coal and water beneath Black Mesa

The opportunity to fashion a new business paradigm where all stakeholders are treated as equal partners is here today. Owners of NGP have technical expertise and money. Hopi and Navajo own land, water, and coal. The entire southwest needs more energy. Together, the tribes and corporations can meet the energy demand and do it a respectful, proper, and equitable way.

Vernon Masayesva

Black Mesa Trust


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