Coal-Fired Power Plants
Navajo Generating Station (NGS)
The Navajo Generating Station (NGS) was a coal-fired power plant operated on the Navajo Reservation. NGS was the West’s largest coal plant, with three 775-foot smokestacks of the 2,250-megawatt plant. This plant has been in operation since 1971.
After NGS closed on November 18, 2019, Diné CARE, along with partner collaborators like Tó Nizhóní Ání (Sacred Water Speaks) and the Black Mesa Water Coalition, launched the Navajo Equitable Economy Initiative. The initiative strives to boost the local Navajo clean-energy economy while embedding Diné Fundamental Law and traditional values. These partner organizations take a watchdog approach to ensure that just transition away from unclean fossil fuels and adequate clean-up occurs.
The Navajo Equitable Economy Initiative focuses on five areas: ending coal operations regionally, transition funding from utilities, land and water reclamation, clean energy development, and community voice in projects. Using these five topics, the organizers grade progress and list changes that need to be made.
View the current progress report.
Energy Transition Act (ETA)
The Energy Transition Act (SB 489) is legislation signed into law by Governor Lujan Grisham of New Mexico in 2019. The law guides the state's transition from fossil fuels to a cleaner, more renewable, and clean energy-based economy.
The ETA created the Energy Transition Indian Affairs Fund, The Energy Transition Economic Development Assistance Fund, and The Energy Transition Displaced Worker Assistance Fund, which seek to support tribal communities affected, displaced plant workers and discover strategic clean energy approaches to guide economic growth. Additionally, these funds and departments aided the creation of Community Advisory Committees. Each Committee requires membership from each Indian Nation, Pueblo, or Tribe in the impacted community.
The ETA offers resources for workforce retraining for those plant and mine workers impacted by mine closure. This was a vital part of the bill because of a high representation of Native American workers at the mine and generating station.
View the legislation.
Four Corners Power Plant
Operating since 1963 and located about 15 miles west of Farmington, NM, the Four Corners Power Plant is currently undergoing an environmental impact review process to renew its lease for an additional 25 years. The current lease expires in 2016 and the plant obtains 100% of its coal from the mine-mouth Navajo Mine, which was formerly owned and operated by BHP Billiton, an Australian corporation. The Navajo Mine is currently owned by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company, LLC (NTEC), but BHP Billiton continues to operate the Navajo Mine through 2016, when the mine lease expires.
Known as the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), this is the first time an environmental assessment is being completed in the 50 years of operations at the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine. The 1,500 page draft EIS (DEIS) was released on March 27, 2014 and the public was given 60 days to review the DEIS and provide comments. The Diné people did not think 60 days was enough time to read the 1,500 page study and provide thorough comments, and therefore, requested the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to extend the comment period. Four Chapters – Dilkon Chapter, Shiprock Chapter, Whiterock Chapter, and Teec Nos Pos Chapter passed resolutions requesting the OSM for a 60-day extension on the DEIS comment period. In addition, the Diné Medicine Men Association and the District 9 Grazing Committee passed similar resolutions. On May 16, 2014, a 30-day extension on the DEIS comment period was extended.
More information on the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine will be forthcoming.
From the years 2003-2011, Dine C.A.R.E. organized with impacted Navajo community members and local Four Corners groups in northwest New Mexico to defeat the proposed Desert Rock Power Plant.
Sithe Global had proposed a coal-fired power plant known as the Desert Rock Power Plant, that would have been located southwest of Farmington, New Mexico, in the Navajo community of Burnham on the Navajo Nation. The Desert Rock plant would have been the third power plant within a 15-mile vicinity of two existing coal plants.
In June 2007, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and held EIS hearings in July 2007 to obtain public input. A vast majority of Navajo community members expressed opposition to the project - stating that the EIS lacked lease agreements, water analyses and usage, existing disproportionate health impacts, and other scathing environmental justice issues. The draft EIS failed to mention alternatives such as wind and solar technology to maximize economic benefit, employment opportunities, and minimization of environmental degradation. Additionally, local Navajo Burnham community members blockaded the proposed site for Desert Rock. Local opposition to Desert Rock was strong.
Diné C.A.R.E. also commissioned a report of renewable alternatives to the Desert Rock Energy project. The information presented options of wind, solar, and energy-efficient technologies.
The final Air Quality Permit for Desert Rock was remanded by the Federal Environmental Appeals Board in 2009. The Desert Rock power plant project was finally canceled in March 2011.
Alternative energy will employ more people and is the way of the future for the Navajo.
Take a look at photos and videos of Desert Rock Resistance