by Jim Maniaci,
13 October 2004
Peabody-BIA propaganda to justify its endless greed and total disregard for
the lives and welfare of Indigenous Americans.
ROCK — By mid-February, a historic agreement might be
reached through mediation to keep the Black Mesa Mine
and Mohave Generating Station open.
would be the next step after the principal parties
reached an agreement in late September on a list of key
issues which they are keeping secret to try to save the
Black Mesa Mine and the aging Mohave Generating Station.
the station's operator, Southern California Edison,
pulled the financial plug on a key study needed to nail
down a new water supply in the southwest corner of the
Navajo Reservation, a high-ranking U.S. Interior
Department official assembled the principals in
Washington, D.C., during the dedication of the National
Museum of American Indians late last month.
principals are SCE, the Interior Department, the Hopi
Tribe and the Navajo Nation. Peabody Energy, which
operates the mine located on both reservations, is not a
principal, although it has a lot at stake. Peabody
strongly supports the mediation.
a result, J. Steven Griles told the Associated Press,
the utility company reconsidered and agreed to foot the
bill of about $2 million. However, the utility wanted to
pay for the drilling on the basis the terms for
potential water use could be reached.
mediation And Navajo Nation Attorney General Louis
Denetsosie said Monday the principals will have four
months to come to a far-reaching historic agreement
through mediation, once the talks begin. The principals
already have selected Eric Van Loon as mediator, he
mediation will cover all the existing lawsuit issues,
coal lease issues and water supply issues, the attorney
an effort to try to reach consensus on how to keep the
power plant going and how to keep the mine open. But, as
in all negotiations, it may fail," he cautioned
since, "There are a lot of tough negotiating
positions out there."
said it would take about six weeks to get the hydrology
report once the test wells are drilled.
to get a notion of what the aquifer can handle, for an
extended period of time," he said. That data will
be converted into computer models to determine "the
impact on the wells at a distance, the impact on
endangered species and to check the geology of the
basin," he explained.
will pay for this part.
utility and the Hopi Tribe did not return telephone
calls by deadline Tuesday to add their comments.
deal wantedGriles' office referred to an Associated
Press interview he gave in Phoenix on Sept. 17, saying
quick agreements must be reached, although meetings up
to that point had failed to yield the crucial pacts to
allow the test drilling.
July, Griles first attempted to get the octopus-like
situation under control. When the principals couldn't
agree by the end of that month, they extended their
deadline to the end of August. Denetsosie said they were
close, but not finished by then. He said Edison wanted
to be comfortable in going ahead, but needed to know
what both tribes wanted. This led to the September
meeting in Washington and the key principles agreement.
needs the coal for the plant, but that also requires the
Diné Attorney General added that even if the project
ends with the water study, it will still be an extremely
valuable tool to the tribe for the future since it will
be "a real in-depth study, one of the best ever
for Peabody, Beth Sutton said, "Signing the
principles agreement certainly is a positive step,
though I would say that there are a number of
significant issues that continue to need resolution. One
of the things we are supporting is mediation, to move
the parties forward to produce an outcome that is
satisfactory for all the parties."
proposed well field is in the Coconino "C"
Aquifer south of Leupp, north of Interstate 40, and
between Winslow and Flagstaff.
miles of new pipeThe initial idea is to build about 100
miles of new pipeline from the well field through both
reservations back up to the mine. The existing worn-out
270-mile pipe would either be retrofitted or replaced.
wants to increase its capacity from about 4,400
acre-feet of water a year to 6,000. The initial concept
also calls for the new route to supply the Indian
communities with 5,600 acre-feet a year. One acre-foot
is about 326,000 gallons.
hang-up has been who will pay for the tribes' portion of
the new line, with the initial idea being that the U.S.
Energy Department would pick up the cost.
"C" field would replace the higher-quality
water Peabody draws from eight deep wells into the
Navajo "N" Aquifer which both tribes have
ordered the coal mining company to stop using on Dec.
is the same date by which Edison must have in operation
a major air pollution control overhaul of the two
750-megawatt electric generators at Mohave.
company projects the entire mine-pipe-plant cost to be
more than $1 billion. Between the mine, the slurry
pipeline that brings the water-coal mixture to Laughlin,
and the power plant, some 600 high-paying jobs are at
stake. The mine represents a major chunk of both the
Hopi and Navajo tribal treasuries as well as the local
economies, so any shutdowns would be
"devastating," as Sutton put it.
power plant occupies a major portion of the gambling
town of Laughlin, Nev., and overlooks nine casinos on
the Colorado River. Edison and its partners serve about
3.5 million families in metropolitan southern
California, southern Nevada and central Arizona.
also operates the neighboring larger Kayenta Mine, which
supplies the Navajo Generating Station on the south
shore of Lake Powell east of Page in the Le Chee
Chapter. Together, the two mines pump about $2 million a
week into the local economies. They produce about 13
million tons of low-sulfur coal a year.
"N" Aquifer hold an estimated 400 million
acre-feet of water in an area the size of Delaware.
Sutton said the company pays more than $1,000 for each
acre-foot to the tribes.
U.S. Surface Mining Office said the annual recharge is
from 13,000 to 16,000 acre-feet a year. The company said
community use amounts to about 7,000 acre-feet a