Guest column: Despite bankruptcy, Peabody Coal should be made to pay Hopi for restoring integrity to Hopi lands and waters and cultural resources
It is the responsibility of Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, to make sure that Peabody Energy, owners and investors Navajo and Mohave Generating Stations, pay full cost of all Hopi coal, cultural resources, and water related restoration requirements.
It was Interior that allowed Peabody to self-bond. That decision, combined with decades of U.S. decisions to defer honest enforcement of federal cultural and environmental protection laws, allowed damages to our land and cultural reclamation to be deferred, so Peabody and utility companies could make more money in the easy days, then in the end walk away. There should be no negotiation about this. Hopi Tribal Council should take action now to require the Secretary to obey the law, as it was intended, and that Interior will assume all obligations if Peabody succeeds in getting Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
There will be long lines of creditors trying to get pennies on the dollar what Peabody owes them, and many will use Congress to try to get federal dollars. The Secretary needs to overcome Congressional pressure to put other damaged parties at the head of the line and leave Hopi with a train wreck.
As we know, the U.S. Trust responsibility puts a unique burden on the federal government to make the Hopi Tribe whole - in other words, to pay the full cost of completely restoring the integrity of Hopi lands and waters and cultural resources. Furthermore, owners of NGS, Peabody Energy, Mohave Generating Station, Central Arizona Conservation Water District, and the state of Arizona must also bear the cost and in addition bring economic justice to Hopi and Navajo people in the form of restitution. There will be no second chance at this. Difficult as it may be for us, we must now unite to bring legal and political action to insist that this be carried out.
We are the people that are the true subsidiaries of the energy and water delivery that has made the state of Arizona prosperous. Our land and the entire Colorado Plateau was declared by a Trilateral Commission a national sacrifice area for energy development and military purposes.
Black Mesa Water Coalition