Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships:
Tribal Partnerships Field Reports
The Federal Government's Office of Surface Mining was accepting public comments until Nov 3rd, 2011 on the Environmental Assessment for Peabody Energy's Kayenta Mine located on Black Mesa. We have known for years that Peabody's operations have impacted sacred springs for local Navajo and Hopi communities. See the latest press release and hydrology report on Peabody Coal's impacts on sacred springs and wells in and around Black Mesa.
Come see a Sign of the End of Coal Power!
The long dark legacy of burning coal at the Mohave Generating Station (MGS) is coming down...literally! The reign of Coal's dominance is coming to an explosive end for one of the most notorious and dirty coal plants in the West. MGS was one of the dirtest coal plants that was shut down thanks to the diverse allies of the Sierra Club. Mohave's legacy will not be forgotten. We continue to work to help our indigenous partners transition our regional economis off coal towards a clean energy future. We shall witness Mohave's large coal smokestacks, taller than any building in AZ, implode and hopfully make room for a larger solar plant as part of a better and cleaner energy future.
Justice victory for Black Mesa communities impacted by Peabody Coal's Kayenta and Black Mesa Mines
Click here for a news release announcing a recent settlement the Sierra Club and others reached with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) over a Freedom of Information Act challenge. The OSM released a huge, 30 Volume permit application of Peabody's coal mines on Black Mesa on the Navajo and Hopi Nations. You can download the full document here.
The permit application contains detailed plans, maps and information regarding Peabody's massive Kayenta and Black Mesa Mines on Black Mesa, Arizona. The coal mine's permit application details how Peabody complies with federal mining laws and is supposed to protect local lands, burial sites and prevent toxic pollution in the air and waters that comes from coal mining.
After a lengthy legal battle to release the documents, the federal government agreed to release the document and we have posted it online so that Peabody's operations can't hide in the dark anymore.
Sierra Club Tribal Partnerships organizer Andy Bessler blogs again for High Country News: Hope for a cleaner energy future. Sierra Club Organizer Vinny Spotleson is also quoted in High Country News, in this article: Small Nevada Tribe Sues BLM Over Coal Ash Landfill.
On November 9, the Arizona Public Service Company announced that the company will close units 1, 2 and 3 at the Four Corners coal-fired power plant located on Navajo Nation land near Farmington, New Mexico. Its a good start, but that ultimately the company needs to transition away from coal entirely. Learn more in the press release and this New Mexico Independent news article.
Sierra Club Tribal Partnerships organizer Andy Bessler is blogging for High Country News about coal and tribal communities. Read his first post "A Just Transition to a Clean Energy Future Off Coal Can Happen."
April 4, 2009
Cameron's Gathering for Mother Earth
Dzil Lebei Elementary School, Cameron, Arizona
On Saturday, April 4th, I helped families in the Navajo community of Cameron just north of Flagstaff, AZ organize a Gathering for Mother Earth.
It was a great success with over 200 folks attending the full day's event. I joined a great list of speakers who talked about a transition to a greener economy in a post-petroleum era.
Thanks and Ahehee' to the main organizers, James, Mae, Tina and the whole Peshlakai Foundation for their leadership in organizing a great day's event!! I am glad we were able to help organize this important event for the community of Cameron.
I expect several media stories based on the presence there of reporters from www.Flgnews.com, AZ Daily Sun and Navajo Times. I don't have confirmation when these stories will appear.
True to form, I think folks left educated and better informed on how to make decisions that impact both their community and Mother Earth. It was a huge diverse crowd that came tog#240er to better understand how renewable energy will play a role in the "post-petroleum era," as Mr. Peshlakai likes to say.
It was interesting to be sitting with leaders from the Havasupai community, as well as other leaders such as the Mayor of Flagstaff and Tucson City Councilman Rodney Glassman who came to better understand Navajo communities. It was a rich mix of people who had some great dialogue to move forward in a green economy.
The event included over 200 attendees with an estimated total of 60 local residents from Cameron in attendance. Other attendees included folks from nearby communities outside of Cameron and volunteers for the day who were also from the community. Both wind companies, Sempra and Citizen's were there with tables and presented their information along with plenty of face time with community members who still had questions about what was happening. For those who don't know, Arizona' best potential for a large scale wind farm is outside of the Navajo community of Cameron. These wind companies are dueling right not for the rights to develop this project and our efforts with this gathering was to bring better community education about the issue, but also bring some transparency and honesty back to the community about their involvement in this issue.
To me, it was a great day because I was able to meet with amazing warriors for Mother Earth and touch base on our work. I got to chat with fellow members of the Navajo Green Economy Coalition who were there to present on their work. Their presentations along with the other speakers I think gave folks a sense of hope for the future. It was great to hear from young Navajo speakers like Nikki Alex and Chelsea Chee from the Black Mesa Water Coalition talk about getting an education, then coming back home to bring positive change and a green economy back to their community. It was truly inspiring and thanks to all who made the time out of their busy lives to attend and "lean in" as we discussed our relationship with Mother Earth.
It was equally inspiring getting to run with over 20 kids from nearby school track teams. Hopi runner Bucky Preston and I tried to keep up with them during a sunrise run around the Dzil Lebei School grounds on a great cross country course. Bucky talked to the kids about the links between healthy bodies with running with the traditions behind running at Hopi and showing respect for Mother Earth.
I got a better idea, as well, as to how folks really feel about renewable energy in a post-petroleum era and I think there is hope in Cameron that we can help bring a solid transition from fossil fuel-based energy forms like coal and oil to wind and solar power.
I spoke on a panel with Anna Rondon, Nikki Alex, and Dr. Bahe Billy. I was able to politely disagree with Steve Begay from DPA on Desert Rock after Steve spoke about Desert Rock's ne#229 construction. I urged better cooperation with DPA in renewables and wished we could work with them more instead of opposing bad coal projects like Desert Rock.
I also updated folks about our efforts to bring a Just Transition from the closure of the Mohave plant, which actually got a support resolution from the Cameron Chapter several years ago. I also advocated for the idea that Cameron community members draft a "community benefits agreement" to better hold outside interests accountable to promises made to folks in Cameron. I hope this event helped educate community members and move this discussion of a wind farm in a positive direction.
Thanks to everyone who helped organize a great event!!