Wanting it both ways

Group seeks funds from Laughlin power plant owners for lost jobs, environmental damage they created

By Suzanne Adams, Kingman Miner Staff Writer
June 1, 2007

LAUGHLIN - Despite its closure, Mohave Generating Station may still be generating electricity for the tri-state area in a different way.

The Flagstaff office of the Sierra Club, the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Black Mesa Trust, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network and To' Nizhoni Ani have created the Coalition on a Just Transition Plan. The coalition is negotiating with Southern California Edison and the California Public Utilities Commission to get just compensation to the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe for environmental damage to their lands and economic damage to the communities due to the shutdown of the power plant.

When the plant shut down, approximately 200 workers at the Black Mesa coal mine lost their jobs. Most of those workers were members of the Navajo Nation or Hopi Tribe.

The Native American communities also lost royalty dollars from the sale of coal to Peabody Western Coal Company. Peabody supplied coal to the plant through a coal slurry pipeline that according to Sierra Club's Web site, sucked up 1.3 billion gallons of water from aquifers under the two reservations.

The Just Transition Coalition started work on negotiations as soon as the plant shut down in December 2005. The same month the coalition presented a unique plan to the CPUC, requiring SCE and the other owners to put money from the sale of pollution credits from the plant into an escrow account to be used for the creation of a renewable source of energy and jobs on tribal lands.

Andy Bessler from Sierra Club and spokesman for the coalition said he thinks this plan may be the first of its kind. Amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990 created the pollution credit system. It allows electric utilities to emit one ton of sulfur dioxide a year per credit. The incentive is that if a power plant can lower the amount of sulfur dioxide it produces by one ton it can sell a credit.

In March 2006, the coalition held a workshop with the CPUC. The CPUC agreed to mediate an agreement between SCE and the coalition about the use of funds from the sale of the pollution credits.

In May 2006, the CPUC required SCE to keep track of and retain funds from the sale of any pollution credits from the plant until an agreement was reached on what to do with the funds.

According to the agreement, the funds will be held in the escrow account until the two tribes can develop and start to implement a plan for an alternative energy plant using wind or solar that will create jobs on the reservations. The power can be routed to California and the funds from the sale will go back to the reservations.

According to the Sierra Club's Web site, the two tribes would cease getting funds from the escrow account in 2026 when the plant's Colorado River water allotment would expire.

At this time, SCE has said that it and the other owners of the plant have not decided what to do with the pollution credits, the plant and the property the plant sits on.




Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html