Navajo families need support
Navajo families are calling on Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Speaker Lorenzo Bates, the Navajo Council, the Department of Interior Acting Secretary James Cason, Bureau of Reclamations Deputy Commissioner David Palumbo, SRP General Manager Mark Bonsal and Board President, David Rousseau, and ACC Commissioners to support the following:
The owners bear the responsibility of cleaning up the facility’s extensive infrastructure and pollution. History provides far too many examples of outside interests exploiting Navajo resources and leaving the Navajo responsible for the mess. This should not be another repeat of the massive Mohave power plant, which is still a mess a decade after it closed. Owners of the plant have a moral obligation to clean up and remediate the mess that has been made at the Navajo Generating Station site.
Additionally, there should be an assessment of local pollution health impacts and strategies to address them ― including health benefits as part of any retirement package so that workers who sacrificed their health in the coal industry are taken care of.
One of the biggest concerns is water and how to protect it for our future. Any details about closure need to consider the Navajo Nation’s water.
Coal mining has depleted the Navajo Aquifer storage by huge amounts ― between 21,000 to 53,000 acre-feet. Most of it cannot be replenished on a human time scale.
There needs to be justice for a community that has been sacrificed in the name of providing power for big cities like Phoenix and pumping water through the desert.
Acre-feet of water have been depleted by coal mining
of the water is ancient fossil groundwater that cannot be replenished
The region has an extensive transmission line infrastructure already in place. And there are investors here and around the world that do renewable energy retrofits that could be interested in projects like these. The Navajo Nation has an opportunity to invest in renewable energy that can compete in today’s markets and that can provide a strong economic foundation for the Navajo and Hopi far into the future.
This is the time for SRP, the Navajo Nation and other stakeholders to think broader and have a real conversation about an overhaul of local energy production, exploring solar generation at the NGS facility, and taking advantage of all the existing transmission infrastructure.
megawatts of potential utility-scale solar
megawatts of wind resources
more energy renewables can be generated on the Navajo Nation than at NGS
There must be a strategy in place so the local workforce is not left behind and forgotten. Now is the time to invest in job retraining and assistance to help the local communities in this transition — both in implementing a cleanup and in developing a roadmap to an economy supported by clean energy jobs.
Officials at all levels should ensure that this doesn’t become yet another story of industry in America leaving a local community with contaminated land and no economic replacement.
We will need retraining for the local workforce to begin the cleanup at NGS and its supporting infrastructure — that can be a source of job creation.
This is the moment to move forward on renewable energy job-creation projects, investing in the Navajo Nation’s vast clean energy potential.
The Navajo Nation has vast potential for developing solar and wind power. A 2012 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory looked at clean-energy alternatives to NGS and estimated that Navajo lands are home to an astonishing 1.2 terawatts of potential utility-scale solar – more than 500 times the output of NGS – and nearly 1,800 megawatts of wind resources.