Johns said 1,000 jobs would be created during the four-year construction of the facility. Another 400 plant and mining jobs would be available during production at Desert Rock. Sithe is committed to giving preference to Navajo workers, Johns said.
We are opposed to Senate Bill 464
We are opposed to Public Subsidies for Multinational Corporations
We citizens of San Juan County and the Northern Navajo Agency are here to formally request our New Mexico Senators vote NO on Bill SB 464. We are asking you: please do not give tax incentives for Dine Power Authority and Sithe Global for the proposed Desert Rock coal-fired power generating station. We oppose this plant for the following reasons:
1 – HEALTH – Navajo People have suffered great abuse over the years as energy companies push their way into the Navajo reservation with toxic waste dumps, uranium mining, oil wells, and two power generating stations in the Four Corners area that generate some of the worst pollution in the entire United States. Our people are dying from heart, kidney, and lung diseases. As low income people lose their health insurance, who will cover the medical costs caused by these outside polluters? Now, this new “cleaner” plant is being proposed that will only add to, not take away, pollution in the region. We can’t afford the health costs.
It would be nice if we could wave a magic wand and either have all these issues disappear or at least find a simple solution to the health care issues. But this is not like a self guided inn to inn hike through the Grampians National Park in Australia. I read about the Grampians National Park in a holiday destination guide. The article was written by a person who lives in Australia. This particular park was home to the aboriginal people who lived there for 20,000 years before western people arrived. For them, it was a valuable source of food, water and shelter. The park is made entirely of sandstone, which has eroded into several separate mountain ranges. Unlike the Navajo reservation geologic makeup, Grampians sandstone is so old that it does not contain fossils since it was actually formed before their time. These mountain ranges are also where one finds the Grampians Heath Myrtle (Thryptomene calycina), a beautiful shrub found growing wild on the park’s rocky mountainsides. It would be nice if the Navajo People had a similar organization such as the Friends Of Grampians Gariwerd (FOGG) to help promote conservation, protection and restoration our reservation.
If only our issues were so simple and the solutions so easy. Unfortunately our situation isn’t simple and seems to become more complicated by the day impacting negatively the peoples of the Navajo Nation.
2 – ENVIRONMENT – The proposed power plant will harm our water, air and food. We live in mostly desert areas. Our survival on this land depends on what little water is available locally. Sithe Global and the Diné Power Authority plan to drill for our ground water to operate Desert Rock power plant. Our Navajo Nation government has approved this request. This is our drinking water; our live stock depends on this water. Why must we as private citizens, forced to haul water for ourselves and our animals, be forced to pay more for our water then these energy companies pay?
Meanwhile, our air is getting dirtier and dirtier. Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury contamination in this country. Local plants emitted 46 tons of mercury in 1990, and this amount is expected to climb 33 percent by 2010. The Four Corners plant emits the highest concentration of mercury as shown by an EPA study in 2003. Mercury is highly toxic to humans. It is transported through the air into river systems where they contaminate the food chain. It’s not just mercury. These plants contribute to global warming, which is devastating our land. The only monitor on the Navajo reservation- located in Sanostee- showed a 75 % increase in ozone in 2003 (that’s 40 miles away from the Four Corners power plant). We are already experiencing hot weather and no rain. We now regularly experience extremely hot summers increasing every year. This year we had the warmest January on record. EVER. And we are experiencing an extreme drought and extremely high fire danger because of these weather changes.
Pollution from coal-fired plants damages forests and crops; it increases warming and contributes to weather disasters. Our crops are suffering in the San Juan area due to pollution from the two power plants we have already had for over forty years. The soils of our grazing areas are blackening from coal dust for a radius of thirty miles from the power plants, and it can be seen with naked eye. The hot dry weather kills our crops during the hot summer months. The water holes and ponds dry out from the heat. There are three power plants in New Mexico: Escalante, Four Corners, and San Juan. The Four Corners and San Juan power plants are in the Four Corners area, one on Navajo land and one right across the river from Four Corners.
3 – JOBS – The Company promises us 1,000 jobs for four years and 200 permanent mining jobs beyond that. History doesn’t support these claims. Unemployment in San Juan County, home to the two existing power plants, is high. The poverty level is 100% in San Juan Chapter next to Four Corners Power Plant. One more polluting power plant is not going to improve this miserable economic situation. It is not worth risking our lives over a few jobs that will not feed the second largest tribe. It is not worth relocation, or spending time in the hospital or lives cut short due to power plant pollutants, for jobs that will never materialize in the levels that proponents of the plant claim.
4 – TAX BREAK – Tax breaks for Sithe Global are going to jeopardize many of our people and it will affect New Mexican rural communities. New Mexico will be losing out on 60 million tax dollars. In the end, we will all end up losers, and suckers for Sithe Global, if New Mexico and the Navajo Nation approves tax breaks for the largest energy company – and billion dollar Resource Company – in New York
5 – Diné (Navajo) People’s Values – Those who live at the proposed site have deeply held religious and cultural values. There are eagle nesting place for generations which we do not want to be disturbed, there are historical sites, and special offering sacred sites where we pray up to this day as our great grandparents before us had done. There are story telling places. The place itself is beautiful, and people live in the area with their livestock. We don’t want to lose our way of life, meaning we live off the land and we are self-sufficient, the people in the area are very well self-sustaining, and do not want to be bothered. We need no hand outs from our government and we enjoy the way we live and we want to keep it that way.
State Senators, House of Representatives, and New Mexico governor, you represent your state, your town and your people. Should you let this tragedy go on in your state? Say NO to the tax breaks and leaves no pathway for more power plants in the Four Corners.
Sarah Jane White
P.O. Box 357
Shiprock, NM 87420
P.O. Box 1002
Fruitland, NM 87416
P.O. Box 7925
New Comb, NM 87455
Lucy A. Willie
New Comb, NM 87455
Lena T. Nakia
Box 284 P.O.
Shiprock, NM 87420
Fruitland, NM 87416