Mohave decommissioning good news, greens say

By Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times, June 14, 2007

CHINLE - Southern California Edison's recent announcement that it will abandon efforts to sell the Mohave Generating Station may be bad news for Peabody Western Coal Co., but it's good news for local environmentalists who are pushing a "Just Transition" to clean power.

"One more nail in the coffin of the dirtiest coal plant in the West," exulted Andy Bessler, coordinator of the Sierra Club's Environmental Partnerships Program.

SCE's announcement was followed by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining's decision to suspend work on an environmental impact statement that had envisioned the plant - and the Black Mesa Mine that supplied its coal - would resume operation someday.

That means more eyes will be trained on the efforts of a partnership of environmental groups known as the Just Transition Coalition.

The coalition wants profits from the sale of Mohave's pollution credits - earned when it stopped operating in December 2005 - to be put toward the development of wind and solar power on the Navajo and Hopi reservations.

The JTC has already been granted authority by the California Public Utilities Commission to work out a plan.

Mediation efforts started last month and are going well, Bessler reported. Parties include the Navajo and Hopi tribes, the Just Transition partner groups, SCE and other Mohave owners, and the Coalition for Utility Employees (representing Mohave workers).

Peabody spokeswoman Beth Sutton said this week the company is still "optimistic" about reopening the Black Mesa Mine that used to supply Mohave before the plant closed rather than spend billions to comply with a court order to reduce emissions.

But Bessler called the SCE decision to drop efforts to sell Mohave a major setback for both the mine and the slurry that used to deliver the coal to Mohave.

"I hope Peabody Energy sees the writing on the wall and does not work to keep the Black Mesa Project EIS going and works instead with surrounding Navajo and Hopi communities on investing in renewable energy development and reclaiming the Black Mesa Mine to a natural state," he wrote in an e-mail.




Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.