read too much into coal proposals
memo referred to in the Daily Sun story, "Tribes
desperate to reopen coal mine," (May 7, 2006) was
only a proposal, not a legal document. It is incorrect
to say that the tribes were willing to give up anything.
The March 7 document does not indicate what the tribes
are willing to give up. Therefore the Daily Sun piece
serves up speculation and an incomplete story.
It is untrue
that Peabody Western Coal and Southern California Edison
would be allowed to pump more water from the Navajo
Aquifer over Hopi farmers' objections, as the Sun reported.
The idea is to replace the use of N-aquifer water with
Coconino aquifer water. The C-aquifer project was covered
in the EIS scoping meetings and will be covered in the
California Edison wants to pump the C-aquifer for replacement
source of water. However, in an emergency, Peabody may
still have to supply backup water from the N-aquifer
but this will not be "more water" from the
N-aquifer than was already agreed to.
Nation did not agree to drop a lawsuit alleging Peabody
engaged in racketeering that the tribe argues cost it
$600 million in coal royalties, as the Sun reported.
There is not enough information in the March 7 document
for this conclusion and it is again, therefore, speculation.
The negotiation and mediation involves all issues in
dispute between the parties, including litigation.
It is untrue
that the tribes agreed that Peabody could not be sued
if it is determined the company fraudulently withheld
data showing its pumping of the Navajo Aquifer for coal
operations had harmed the aquifer, as the Sun reported.
Again, the March 7 document is a proposal, not an agreement
signifying what the tribes agree to. To say it is is
Nation is not involved in secret negotiations, is not
negotiating secret deals with energy companies, and
neither the Navajo Negotiating Team nor President Shirley
has authority to commit the Navajo Nation to any binding
agreement. Only the Navajo Nation Council has the authority
to approve a final agreement. The Navajo Nation negotiating
team is involved in these negotiations with the consent
of and in consultation with its client, the Navajo Nation
government. This can hardly be called secret when several
Navajo Nation governmental entities are involved.
and Hopi tribes, Peabody, the Salt River Project and
SCE are all bound by a confidentiality agreement that
was required by a federal court mediation agreement.
This is not at all unusual and is the standard practice
governing similar matters.
Nation Negotiation Team is composed of lawyers and council
delegates. President Shirley is not on this team despite
the accusation of him approving secret deals.
with the desire of the Navajo Nation Council, when negotiation
meetings are held again, the Navajo Nation Negotiation
Team will be at the table to participate in the mediation
The Sun reported
that the March 7 proposal includes little of what the
tribes requested. There is no way to ascertain what
the tribe sought from that proposal document.
about the proposed pipeline to Canyon Diablo has been
reported in public environmental impact statement scoping
meetings and is not new. However, it is also untrue
to report that if the well fields were to fail, Peabody
would have first priority at Navajo users expense. Peabody
will not do any pumping. As reported in the scoping
meetings, tribal domestic uses will have priority.
It is also
inaccurate to report that Southern California Edison
would not pay for water development in the Leupp area
because no agreement to that effect has been approved.
This is more speculation. President Shirley stated he
would not support an agreement that does not develop
water for these Navajo communities.
Nation is participating in the mediation process for
specific reasons. These are to determine whether a better
arrangement can be reached with the energy companies
to the Navajo Nation for all past wrongs alleged to
have been committed by the companies.
2. A more
equitable return on the sale of Navajo coal in the future.
of a C-aquifer pipeline to provide an alternative to
the use of the N-aquifer for the old slurry line with,
and only with, development of water infrastructure to
be used by Navajo communities. And,
to the maximum extent possible of use of the N-aquifer
for industrial use. But this will not happen if an alternative
source of water is not found.
that Peabody asked the Office of Surface Mining and
Engineering to increase water use from the N-aquifer
is contained it its permit application and has been
available since before these negotiations began or the
C-aquifer project was conceived.
the Natural Resources Defense Council asserts that spring
flows are diminishing and a falling water table is affecting
solids in nearby wells, it made no study of its own
to reach these conclusions. There is no reputable scientist
that has endorsed the evaluation methodology used by
NRDC and its conclusions. No reporter has contacted
either the Navajo Nation or OSME to report their analysis
of the NRDC report.
The Sun inaccurately
reported that if the Black Mesa Mine reopened that Peabody
would use water from the Navajo Aquifer water for a
pipeline. There is nothing in the March 7 document to
substantiate this. This is the purpose of the C-aquifer
project, to replace N-aquifer water for the mining purposes.
This was set forth in the EIS scoping sessions. If the
power plant and the Black Mesa Mine are not re-opened,
Peabody will still continue to pump substantial amounts
of N-aquifer water for use at the Kayenta Mine.
is the communications director in the Office of the
President and Vice President for the Navajo Nation.