Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Fri, Sept. 18

Speaker Morgan reaffirms commitment to Desert Rock Energy Co.

WINDOW ROCK- The Honorable Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan (Iyanbito/Pinedale) reaffirms his commitment to the 21st Navajo Nation Council decision to support the Desert Rock Energy Company. The Desert Rock Energy Company is an affiliate of Sithe Global Power, which will operate the power plant with Diné Power Authority (DPA) and the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Nation Council supported the Desert Rock Energy Company with a 66 to 7 vote to approve the business-site lease on May 13, 2006.

"The 21st Navajo Nation Council has already supported the Desert Rock project and their decision has already been made," Speaker Morgan said.

Most recently, DPA was successful in obtaining the approval for the business-site lease, which was approved on May 26, 2006. As head of the Legislative Branch of the Navajo Nation, Speaker Morgan has been very significant through the process involving the Desert Rock project.

Discussion on Desert Rock began in 2003. The air permit, which is in Region 9, is in its final review. The Environmental Impact Statement is almost complete, and the comment period has recently been extended to allow for more technical comments. The new due date for comment submission is Oct. 9.

Once the comment period has closed, there will be a period of review by the cooperating agencies that consist of tribal, state and federal agencies. The agencies will make their final decision shortly thereafter.

DPA relies consistently on three committees within the Legislative Branch that provide oversight. The Economic Development Committee administers the process for the DPA business-site lease. The Resources Committee is responsible for providing the right-of-way for water, and the Budget and Finance Committee provides oversight for project funding in cooperation with the entire Navajo Nation Council.

Dirk Straussfeld, executive vice-president of Sithe Global Power, added that DPA and Sithe Global have been actively meeting with their assigned committees. In the near future, DPA would like to present their findings to the Navajo Nation Council.

Straussfeld added "We appreciate Speaker Morgan, President Shirley and the entire Navajo Nation Council for their continued commitment to the project."

Steven Begay, DPA general manager, echoed Sithe Global's support for Speaker Morgan, by saying that he appreciates the help that the Office of the Speaker has provided in this process and thanks Speaker Morgan for managing the legislative process.

"We are very thankful for Speaker Morgan's invaluable assistance with our project. The Office of the Speaker has been instrumental in helping us to draft legislation, help with funding requests, and by helping us with the sovereign right-of-way. We are very appreciative for Speaker Morgan's support."

"Future Council sessions will certainly address additional issues related to Desert Rock and Speaker Morgan will continue to play a significant role in improving the quality of life on the Navajo Nation," Straussfeld said.

"This is an important project for the Navajo Nation. We will continue to have items related to future projects on our agenda and we will continue to work with President Shirley and the Navajo Nation Council to improve the quality of life for the Navajo Nation," Morgan said.

Individuals who would like to submit comments concerning the Desert Rock Environmental Impact Statement should direct statements to: Harrilene Yazzie, NEPA Coordinator; Bureau of Indian Affairs, Navajo Regional Office; PO Box 1060; Gallup, New Mexico 87305; or by phone at (505) 863-8286.

For more information about the Desert Rock coal-fired plant, contact Steve Roth at the Fluor Corporation at (469) 398-7624 or Frank Maisano with Sithe Global Power at (202) 997-5932. You may also contact Steven C. Begay, General Manager of DPA, at (928) 871-2268.

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