Chapter considers Just Transition
By S.J. Wilson,
May 15, 2007
LEUPP-Leupp Chapter officials
and chapter members received a request for a resolution
supporting the Just Transition Coalition's proposal
that includes plans to bring economic development and
energy to the Navajo and Hopi reservations.
The coalition consists of the Indigenous
Environmental Network, Honor the Earth Foundation, Apollo
Alliance, Black Mesa Water Coalition, To'Nizhoni Ani,
Grand Canyon Trust and the Sierra Club.
Andy Bessler of the Sierra Club and
Enai Begaye of the Black Mesa Water Coalition traveled
to Leupp on May 5 to explain the details of the proposal,
which is based on what environmental groups-both Native
and non-Native-see as a fair closure to a painful chapter
of Navajo and Hopi history.
"When Mohave closed, owners get
to cash in on millions of dollars of pollution credits,"
Bessler explained on May 10. "The Coalition is
asking the government in California to give those dollars
to Navajo and Hopi communities for investment in wind
and solar energy projects. This will bring jobs, economic
development and renewable energy to tribes, while California
residents would get the electricity [that is] produced."
Bessler explained the benefits to chapter
members, pointing out that the renewable energy components
of the proposal would use virtually no water, and will
not pollute the land.
"California has passed a great
many laws concerning renewable energy and environmental
issues," Bessler said. "If they share this
money with us, they will want to see it spent on wind
and solar power."
Though many people hope that the Mohave
issue is closed, Bessler reported that in a recent conversation
with representatives from the Office of Surface Mining
(OSM) he learned that work on the Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) is continuing, and is expected to be
released in July.
"Southern Cal Edison is looking
for new buyers for the Mohave Generating Station, and
if they can't sell it, they will no longer pay for the
EIS," Bessler said. "In that case, Peabody
Energy will pay to have the EIS process continue."
Amos Johnson is no stranger to aquifer
issues. As delegate to the Black Mesa and Forest Lake
Chapters, he and fellow chapter members have experienced
firsthand the effects of N-aquifer water use for coal
slurry by Peabody Coal Company.
I think [the Just Transition proposal]
is a good idea. I support it mainly because the credits
and allowances [from the plant closure] should benefit
the Navajo as well as the Hopi people," Johnson
said. "It's our coal and our water, and we have
seen little return on these resources. The royalty rates
we've received are not at fair market value."
Johnson said that the Navajo Nation
should develop a feasibility plan concerning solar and
wind power in order to protect the environment.
"Water is included in our relationship
to each other and the environment," Johnson added.
"We are always talking about clans-and a lot of
the clans are water clans. If the water is gone, we
are no longer in existence. We must protect our resources
for future generations and for our clanship."
Chapter Delegate Thomas Walker Jr. noted
that the Just Transition proposal could be an opportunity
if Leupp Chapter had achieved Local Governance status.
"With certification, we could have
a deciding role," Walker said. "That status
is needed to give the chapter the ability to create
formal policies on land and resource use. I urge the
chapter to accelerate that effort. Once we are certified,
that would bring us a step [closer] on a lot of decision
making within the chapter, which could include the grassroots
people as well. Right now, it's the central government
that sees the Just Transition proposal as a top money-making
effort, not Leupp Chapter."
Members of the C-Aquifer for Diné
(CAFD) group discussed various concerns and issues,
including a proposal for individual wells for families
in the Canyon Diablo area.
Chapter President Thomas Cody told group
members that individual wells were not feasible, as
Indian Health Services would not provide individual
wells. After listening to various speakers, Cody urged
members of the group to put a plan together that the
chapter could include in its water plan.
"I want one of you to sit on Andy
Bessler's Just Transition task force. I'll attend those
meetings and we'll all be on the same page," Cody
Cody also encouraged the C-Aquifer for
Diné group to attend the Community Land Use Plan
(CLUP) meetings and that at their request, the last
CLUP meeting was held on a Saturday, however none of
the group members had attended.
Calvin Johnson, President of the CAFD
group said that meetings were held without his group
Council Delegate Leonard Chee responded
to Johnson's allegation that he and other chapter officials
received $500 for attending meetings.
"You receive $500 per meeting-give
them [chapter members] time to voice their own issues
from their own voices."
"For today's record, I don't get
$500 per meeting," Chee laughed. "I wish I
After the meeting, Cody admitted that
there are outside communities looking to Leupp for water,
including a request to provide water for the coming
Dilcon Health Center. Allegations voiced during the
meeting that Winslow would be closing the Indian Health
Center are rumors, Cody added.
On the topic of the Just Transition
proposal, Cody said that the chapter would put forth
an effort to get a supporting resolution for the Just
Transition proposal, but that he also wants to know
what percentage would be going to the Navajo and Hopi
people, and would this money end up in the trust fund?
"I want to know who will really
benefit from this plan," Cody said. "The Just
Transition Coalition needs to provide details on how
my people will benefit."
When asked whether he believed that
the California entities would go for the proposal, Bessler,
for one, is hopeful.
"As Martin Luther King said, 'The
moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards
justice,'" Bessler said. "The decades of mining
at Black Mesa and the drawdown of the N-Aquifer have
been an historical injustice to Navajo and Hopi people
and the [Just Transition] Coalition hopes that this
plan will help bring healing through wind and solar
energy development that does not use groundwater, pollute
the air and allow land users to keep using the land.
"Currently, we are in mediation
and have been assigned a mediator by the California
Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)," Bessler continued.
"Parties in the mediation include the Coalition,
the Navajo and Hopi Tribes, California ratepayer groups
and the primary owner of Mohave-Southern California
Edison. Based on how the CPUC has taken our plan and
moved it along, I am confident that the CPUC will direct
these funds-estimated at around $20 million per year
until 2026-toward tribal communities. Once we work out
the details through mediation, CPUC will either approve
or deny the plan, which we feel will be approved."
Rosita Ann Kelly, chapter secretary/treasurer,
noted that since studies have shown that the Leupp/Canyon
Diablo has water, other communities have been asking
"My issue is that we wanted the
water here," Kelly said. "What about the people
here? I want to see our people get served here before
water is sent out. We're trying to work on this the
best we can."