BLACK MESA, Ariz. - Black Mesa Trust, an indigenous grassroots Hopi environmental, education and advocacy group serving the Native peoples of Black Mesa in northern Arizona, has called on Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 to support its efforts to require that the coal-based 2250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station (NGS) in Page, Ariz., and the Central Arizona Project that carries water from the Colorado River to Phoenix and Tucson, operate in an environmentally sound and culturally equitable manner.
Black Mesa Trust Executive Director Vernon Masayesva said, "The good old days when NGS produced cheap electricity to pump water to Central and Southern Arizona, using coal from Black Mesa obtained at discounted prices from the Hopi and Navajo people, are numbered. Along with NGS, Peabody Coal is facing multiple problems, including growing opposition from Hopi and Navajo people to the world's largest strip-mining operation
"We feel NGS can be saved as a base-load generating station, using a mix of solar, natural gas, and hydro-electricity."
The coal, water and land leases that allow Navajo Generating Station to run are up for renewal in the next few years. As the leases are renegotiated, Black Mesa Trust has requested that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar consider these issues: the historic and long-term health, water and economic harms the Hopi and Navajo peoples have suffered from the generating station and the coal mines that fuel it; the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement actions that have allowed mining operations to contaminate and degrade surface and ground water in the region, diminish water flows from springs and washes to traditional Hopi farms and destroyed hundreds of ancient burial sites; and the development of a regional energy plan focused on developing clean energy resources to provide baseload power to operation the 336-mile Central Arizona Project, which since its inception has been totally reliant on power from the Navajo Generating Station.
Masayesva and Marshall Johnson, founder of To'Nizhoni Ani, a Navajo grassroots organization dealing with water issues, have enlisted experts from Black Mesa Trust's Circle of Advisors, the Grand Canyon Trust and the Center for Applied Research to assist with the effort, and will seek support from the governors of Arizona, New Mexico and California, Hopi and Navajo government leaders and other environmental organizations to develop a plan to safeguard, honor and preserve the land, waters and cultures of Black Mesa.
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