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.