Environmentalists have targeted coal energy in the region with
lawsuits,claiming poor air pollution controls contribute to the
haze at Grand Canyon and beyond.
And the EPA is
expected to come out with new clean up mandates in coming months
– mandates that could cost as much as a billion dollars to
upgrade each of the three plants on or near the reservation.
worked for former Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., and
now consults with the Navajo Generating Station.
leave the Navajo Nation they take with them their language,
their culture and their way of life," Hardeen said. "If there
are no jobs on the Navajo Nation, they don’t return. The Navajo
Generating Station has served as an economic anchor for almost
With coal jobs
threatened, the tribe is looking for alternatives. And their
geography could be an asset.
Utility Authority Manager Walter Haase just signed an agreement
with Edison Mission and the Salt River Project to build a large
scale wind farm on a ranch owned by the tribe west of Flagstaff.
"This type of
project is a paradigm shift for the Native American community,"
This is the
first renewable project that is majority owned by a tribe. It
would create about 350 temporary jobs during construction, but
only 10 permanent jobs.
would like to see the tribe offset its economic dependence on
coal, he says it’s not practical to say renewable energy will
"So if you were
to switch from one to the other, which isn’t physically
possible, you’re going from 1,500 jobs down to 150 jobs," Haase
said. "That’s a losing equation for anybody."
energy developers have tried and failed to get projects started
on the reservation.