Is the Navajo Nation government going back to their old tricks?

April 19, 2007

On April 16, the Resources Committee of the Navajo Nation Council pulled their old under handed trick again by attaching the Dine' Power Authority resolution requesting $2.0 million onto other spending bills that other delegates could not veto. The first DPA resolution this year requesting $2.5 million that went before the Council in January, '07 was defeated. You would think that by now the delegates with seniority would take the welfare of their people and their land into serious consideration, but their action was complete opposite.

For the past five years the weathered delegates have been determine to build the Desert Rock Power Plant against the opposition of the people. Despite all the information about global warming from coal-fired power plants, about upholding the Navajo Fundamental Laws, about increase in negative health impact in Four Corners from a third coal-fired Power Plant, they still continue to take action that will have a greater devastating results on our people in the near future.

The writing is clear and simple. All one has to do is read the newspapers and watch the news. On April 18, 2007, Senate Majority Chairman, Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) gave three examples of steps the EPA should take immediately in the wake of the Supreme Court's recent rulings on global warming pollution. One of the three was: EPA should set global warming pollution standards for new and modified coal-burning power plants immediately.

One only needs to read of the impending Carbon Tax, that will tax power plant owners of the CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) they release into the air. Desert Rock will release 13.5 million tons of Co2. In effect, whatever financial gains made by the Navajo Tribe will be wiped out by paying Carbon Tax. Has it even been discussed that Sithe takes on liability for impending carbon taxes?

The Desert Rock Power Plant, if built, will produce more pollution, although the company and Navajo decision makers claim otherwise. The bottom line is pollution will be greater affecting the health of our people in greater numbers. Coal-fired pollution includes mercury, C02, sulfur dioxide - to name a few. Mercury causes neurological disorder in babies at fetal stage. Burned coal produces C02 (carbon dioxide) and is the main cause of global warming along with car emissions. Sulfur dioxide also comes from burned coal, and combined with C02, causes asthma and other respiratory problems in human.

The Navajo people have a responsibility to challenge their lawmakers (Council delegates) to address global warming and develop standards for coal-fired power plant pollution within the Four Sacred Mountains. The following are specific legislative initiatives: 1) Amend the Navajo Clean Air so that it addresses global warming; 2) Direct Chief Legislative Counsel to analyze and report back to the council the recent Supreme Court decision and report findings and conclusions, as it pertains to environmental quality of the air-shed and sovereignty of tribal air space. 3) Direct Legal Counsel to analyze and interpret the Carbon Tax and determine if it is consistent with the Tribal Tax Code (the tax agreement approved for Sithe Global). 4. President Joe Shirley, Jr. be directed to line-item veto the said supplemental appropriation resolution for Dine' Power Authority on the basis of public health and environmental concerns - the same concerns he espoused for supporting the uranium ban on Navajo land. The radioactivity in coal is no less genocidal and ecocidal than radioactivity in uranium. Coal and uranium are both deadly and both should be kept in the ground.

The Navajo Nation presently lives under double standard in reference to the environment. The original Fundamental Law tells us to respect and protect the environment because it has life and all is connected to sustain itself and we are a part of that connectedness. On the other side is the Western standard to use the natural resources to live life to our satisfaction. Navajo leaders swing back and forth to use which standard benefits them. It will take a strong, sincere leadership to embrace what is truly right and make the changes accordingly for the future of our people.

The hope is in the young, newly elected Navajo Nation Council to produce initiatives that will benefit the welfare of all Navajo people to live in a land that is clean and healthy.

Lucy Willie

Burnham Chapter resident

Sarah White

Sanostee Chapter resident

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