Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Business as Usual: Navajo spin machine pushes power plant

While the Navajo Nation and Desert Rock power plant spin machines churn out deceptive information, the grassroots Navajo people say 'NO' to another power plant and business as usual for the 88 Navajo council men and women. That includes the elected Navajo leaders regularly attending the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas on the Navajo peoples' money. The Navajo councilmen receive most of their income for salaries and travel from energy leases, then schedule meetings in Las Vegas during the rodeo and other social events.
"The 2008 Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) was a year of several firsts. The INFR was held October 2-5th at the extravagant South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Article at
Please read Dooda Desert Rock's response to the latest spin by those who want to poison the air, land and water for profit.
--Censored News

Elouise Brown, President
P.O. Box 7838
Newcomb, Navajo Nation
(New Mexico) 87455

(505) 947-6159

December 16, 2008

Gallup Independent
P.O. Box 1210
Gallup, NM 87305

Dear Editor,

When I read Stephen Begay’s remarks about the Desert Rock disaster I thought, “This gentleman does not learn from experience and he hasn’t been following the news.”

One would hope that the Dine Power Authority and the politicians would learn that we cannot talk about open government in the Navajo Nation when bureaucrats and politicians use the pretext of business to meet in Las Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo. The public has the right to attend meetings — because they are our public business — but I’m not on the government list for air tickets, nice hotel and free meals. Just declare National Finals Rodeo to be a perk for the politicians and let them go. Our money will get wasted anyway. Just make them do business at home in the public eye.

President Obama announced his global warming team, and there’s no way Rudy Giuliani & Co. are going to have their way with this administration (Rudy’s firm being the lawyers and publicists for Desert Rock and the Dine Power Authority). They pulled it off with the Desert Rock air permit, but times are changing. A supporting member of the Obama Green Team is Representative Henry Waxman, who was appointed as the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee a few weeks ago. Related news stories speculated that he will be vital to President Obama’s initiative to take effective action to deal with global warming. Waxman issued a statement on Desert Rock in July:

It is reckless to approve a huge coal-fired power plant with no global warming emission controls. This one massive plant will negate the emissions reductions being implemented by the Northeastern states in the first mandatory regional program to cut global warming pollution. The Administration’s shameful decision rewards polluters, fouls the Clean Air Act, and fails the American people.
That was before the recent “Bonanza” decision by the E.P.A. Appeals Board that returned a Utah power plant project for consideration of alternatives because carbon dioxide is a pollutant and its impacts have to be considered. That is precisely the issue on the Desert Rock clean air permit and the State of New Mexico’s motion to the Appeals Board to send the case back for that same consideration. We have reached the limits for carbon dioxide in New Mexico, and that has to be addressed.

Mr. Begay makes a lot of promises about carbon capture. He seems to be saying that after they put up the “dirty” power plant in two phases, there will be a third phase that will do carbon capture — and D.P.A. will itself take care of that! What is in the air in Window Rock? Some sort of laughing greenhouse gas?

Mr. Begay needs to visit a web page titled “Carbon Dioxide Facts” on the Desert Rock Energy Project web site. There is a section titled “Sequestration: An Unanswered Question.” It says that the technology for carbon capture is not available. That having been said, there is a link to a 2007 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that backs up the point that carbon capture technology is not yet in place.

Yet Mr. Begay went before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs last May to talk about Desert Rock and carbon capture. He didn’t say it outright (as he did in the article), but he hinted that the folks at the plant could turn carbon dioxide into fizzy pop and pump it into old oil and gas wells in the area. That’s where I live, and I’m not too enthused about carbolic acid mixing with our groundwater.

The handwriting is on the wall. Representative Waxman introduced a bill for the “Moratorium on Uncontrolled Power Plants Act,” and it would not allow new plants without carbon capture technology in place. The bill will likely move now. While the E.P.A. Appeals Board has not reached the point where there is a precedent that carbon capture must be part of any new power plant, it is getting close. Alternatives to deal with carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas have to be seriously considered.

Rights-of-way should be handled right. I got the Desert Rock lease (a public document) and we reviewed how land user compensation was handled for the power plant site. There was no public notice so that land users could make claims. There must be public notice of where the rights-of-way will run so that Navajos can make claims for compensation for the loss of use of their customary use rights. There must be compensation for improvements. The budget for compensation must be part of any package that will be presented, and the public needs to know where the rights-of-way run.

As for the Dine Wind Project and Joseph Kennedy II, the Giuliani law firm represented Citgo, Hugo Chavez’ oil company, and one of the publicity stunts the firm pulled was having Hugo give heating oil to poor people (including Indians) through Kennedy’s program to look good and tweak George Bush’s nose. There is a continuing Giuliani firm relationship with Mr. Kennedy because of that. That’s fine, but who is paying the bills? Kennedy? The Navajo Nation? Why did D.P.A. need the million it asked for close to the end of the fiscal year (it got $720,000)?

Elouise Brown
Chaco Rio, NM

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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