by Jim Maniaci, Diné
16 July 2004
ROCK—Monday's meeting in Albuquerque about keeping the Mohave
Generating Station and Black Mesa Mine open past Dec. 31, 2005,
lined up with the mine operator's efforts for several years.
Interior Department Assistant Secretary for Indian Trust Affairs,
J. Steven Griles, assembled the gathering of about three dozen
representatives of the principals and they agreed to work as
quickly as possible for the salvation of the 1971 power plant in
Laughlin, Nev., which obtains its coal from the mine on the Navajo
and Hopi Reservations.
are about 600 jobs and sizable portions of the two tribes'
treasuries. Southern California Edison manages the plant for a
group of private and government utilities; Peabody Energy operates
the mine whose entire coal production goes to the two-unit, 1,500
megawatt, plant which is a stone's throw from Casino Drive on the
Colorado River's west side.
Peabody press office said, "Our objective is to avoid or
minimize the shutdown of Mohave and we've been working with the
Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, the Mohave owners and the U.S.
Department of Interior for several years to create solutions that
all parties will support."
Peabody also said its agreements with the two tribes
allow it to use the high-quality, deep, Navajo "N"
Aquifer water as long as it is mining the coal. The company points
out it supports using another source of water out of respect for
cultural concerns which have been expressed.
company maintains that the "resource remains healthy and
robust" and that the company will use less than one-tenth of
one percent of the water stored in the deep aquifer. The wells go
down about 3,700 feet and are cased to at least 2,000 feet, and
therefore, the company maintains, do not materially affect the
shallow surface wells which go down about 300 feet.
world-wide coal company headquartered in St. Louis said some of
the previous concerns with Mohave's owners have been satisfied,
such as the quality and quantity of coal. The precious fuel source
would be washed to reduce the sulfur content to an acceptable
level. And with the increased efficiency from the remodeling of
Mohave for the installation of air pollution control equipment an
additional 1 million tons a year would be needed, raising the
consumption to 5.5 million tons a year.
said the latest figures in the discussions show the 20-year
extension of the coal supply agreement with Edison is worth $2
billion in direct economic benefits to the tribes $86 million a
year for two decades. Its payments to the two tribal governments
supply 13 percent of the Navajo Nation general fund and 23 percent
of the annual revenue of the Hopi Tribe, the press office said.
officials have used the figure of $25 million a year as the hit on
the treasury of the largest Indian government in America starting
in fiscal year 2006, since Mohave must shut down on Jan. 1, 2006,
if it does not have the air pollution control equipment installed.
With the Window Rock government's general fund expected to take in
a gross of $140 million in fiscal year 2005, the $25 million would
equal about 18 percent.
Peabody added the new contract would insure the
continuation of low-cost electricity to 1.5 million families in
the Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix areas.
supply contract between Edison and Peabody also expires Dec. 31,
2005, which is the same date the two tribe's have set to halt the
pumping of the "N" Aquifer.
Interior Department's Reclamation Bureau is to do the
"C" Aquifer feasibility study and environment impact
statement. The Navajo Nation presidential press office has put the
cost of the project at $100 million to $180 million since about
100 miles of new line would have to be built from the Canyon
Diablo well field north of Interstate 40 between Winslow and
Flagstaff to the mesa. The existing 18-inch line would be replaced
with a larger one, although Peabody said the size would vary
depending on several factors.
wants to increase its water consumption from 4,400 acre-feet to
6,000 acre-feet because of the use of more coal. The coal is
ground into dust and mixed 50-50 with water to form a slurry which
is pumped 273 miles with a drop of about 7,000 feet. The
feasibility study and impact statement would include a modeling of
the "C" Aquifer section being targeted, Peabody said.
has said the cost of the huge inter-state project will be at least
$1 billion overall.
the mining company's press office did not want to identify its
participants in the Albuquerque meeting other than to say they
were senior management from the western operation and corporate
headquarters, others present said they were John Wasik and Fred
set a July 31 deadline for their plans to fast-track the project,
with Griles to meet with Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr.,
Hopi Tribe Chairman Wayne Taylor, and Harold Roy of Edison the
first week of August.