Letter to the Editor: Local partnership aims to put “Nature and People First” with water project proposal
Thank you for publishing in a recent Guest Column about Black Mesa the information about Nature and People First’s applications for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) preliminary permits.
The applications are intended to demonstrate the opportunity for the Navajo Nation, Chapters on Black Mesa and local people from a pumped hydro storage project. The permits do not permit a project, rather they would start the permitting process. As the company name states, any project will put nature and people first. Nature and People principles are to only do a project that:
Chapter and local people want.
Helps the Nation, the Chapter and the local people.
Meets all the permitting requirements of the Navajo Nation.
As such the company is working with Chilchinbeto Chapter and grazing permittees to do a pilot project which would use less than 1% of the land shown in the FERC applications. While the final design of the project will be determined after discussions with the Nation, administration, agencies and Council, the project is expected to be located on about 100 acres on the top of the mesa and about 100 acres at the base of the mesa, an area smaller than the grazing area of two cows.
The project is essentially a water infrastructure project: after construction over 90% of the water infrastructure will be available for use by the Navajo Nation. Moreover, the project will improve a road to the top of the mesa which currently is frequently impassable. Recently a snowmobile had to be rented to bring food and medicine to a stranded Chapter resident. The project is expected to create directly and indirectly about 1,000 jobs during construction and 100 permanent jobs.
The project also can bring additional benefits to the Nation, the Chapter, and the local people such as help with: roads, broadband, grazing, agriculture, scholarships and veterans programs to increase biodiversity
We are reaching out to the Nation administration, Council, leaders, environmental organizations and local people to identify ways the project can help. If NTUA decides to be involved in the project, the storage service will benefit the Nation directly. We commend President Nygren for his Executive Order 02-2023 to create a process for energy companies to submit proposals for projects on Navajo Nation land. Finally, we welcome comments and suggestions from Observer readers about a potential project on Chilchinbeto Chapter land.
Paul Madson, Chilchinbeto Chapter President and Peter Wallis, Nature and People First