Indian Country Today
30 April 2010
Peabody Western Coal Co. is operating illegally
in the pursuit of profit at the expense of people’s lives,
livestock, wildlife and the environment. Peabody is illegally
giving money to the Navajo Nation Council prior to getting an
approval on the Black Mesa and Kayenta mine lease re-opener.
Peabody is using blood money of our land and life.
Too many of our people have died, without a
health assessment done of respiratory problems, black lung,
silicosis, cancer, kidney failure, despair and suicide in the name
and pursuit of coal and high royalties.
A higher royalty rate is not enough. Peabody
Coal Company promised Black Mesa residents a lot of things but
they are only empty declarations. The NNC must hold a hearing in
Black Mesa and allow directly affected residents a seat at the
negotiating table. Ever since the mine started we have been living
without electricity and running water. Water sources have been
capped off, surface and groundwater supplies depleted, washes
contaminated from arsenic and other heavy metals. The humans and
the animals in Big Mountain and Black Mesa do not have any safe
drinking water and are forced to travel long distances or drink
water we suspect is contaminated.
The lease re-opener has a fatal flaw. The NNC
cannot grant to Peabody under a lease re-opener when a federal
judge vacated the Black Mesa permit and the mine closed five years
ago when the Mohave Generating Station was shut down.
The pending U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency water discharge for Peabody Coal Company’s Black Mesa and
Kayenta mine has a fatal flaw. The EPA cannot issue a water
discharge permit for the Black Mesa mine when there is no Black
Mesa mine. The Black Mesa and Kayenta mines cannot be joined in a
It is time reclamation begins in Black Mesa to
replenish water depleted from the Navajo Aquifer and surface and
ground water sources from coal slurry pipeline line operations. It
is time the slurry line and related infrastructure is dismantled
and Peabody takes down signs for the Black Mesa mine.
Peabody must be held accountable for trademarks
left behind, a legacy of corporate crimes against the indigenous
people of Black Mesa. Peabody’s collusion with the U.S. government
has resulted in a dark infamy of genocidal relocation and crimes
against my people and the environment – relocation, the Bennett
Freeze, uranium mining, Desert Rock, all in the pursuit of energy
resource development fueled by corporate and governmental greed
-Leonard Benally Black Mesa, Ariz.