Dec. 23: Navajo Council & B&F & Naabi meeting

Navajo Councll chambers in Window Rock, Ariz., where Council and standing committees meet. Photo by Marley Shebala

Navajo Councll chambers in Window Rock, Ariz., where Council and standing committees meet. Photo by Marley Shebala

Greetings Relatives/Frens/Human,
I didn’t make it out to Twin Arrows Casino & Resort for the Navajo Council’s Budget & Finance Committee meeting and then the Naa’bik’iyati Committee today. And apparently I didn’t miss anything because the B&F never got a quorum so there was no debate or action taken on Legislation 0367-13, which is all about sealing the deal for Navajo Transitional Energy Company, on behalf of the Navajo government, to take over BHP’s coal mining operation. And since there was no action by B&F, Legislation 0367-13 could not move forward to the Naa’bik’iyati Committee. But now the plan is have the B&F, Naabi and Navajo Council all meet on Dec. 23, Monday, at the Council chamber in Window Rock just for Legislation 0367-13. And don’t forget, the Resources & Development Committee is also meeting on Monday to take action of Delegate Leonard Tsosie’s uranium bill. RDC meeting in Chilchinbeto, Ariz.

If you read my earlier posts, there was a PLAN to zip LEGISLATION 0367-13 through the Navajo Nation government legislative process it could get before the Navajo Council on Dec. 23. And I’m sure that the prime sponsor of Legislation 0367-13, who is Delegate LoRenzo Bates, is hoping that the Council approve Legislation 0367-13 BECAUSE it’s needed to complete the dirty deed. And dirty it is because the deed deals with the tribal purchase of all of the equipment, machinery, etc. that BHP owns to operate and mine tribal coal by the end of December.

But the deed also involves multiple parties – BHP, the tribe, which is represented by Navajo Transitional Energy Company, and the owners of Four Corners Power Plant. The FCPP owners are Southern California Edison (48 percent), Arizona Public Service Company (15 percent), El Paso Electric (7 percent), Public Service Company of New Mexico (13 percent), Salt River Project (10 percent), and Tucson Electric Power (7 percent). A note here: SCE announced several years ago that were pulling out as owners and APS has been working on buying SCE’s 48 percent share in FCPP and came to a screeching halt when Arizona started talking deregulation. The talk ended after much pressure from BHP, FCPP owners and Navajo President Shelly, Speaker Naize, Navajo Council. Well, the SCE – BHP deal went sideways again when El Paso Electric recently announced that it was also pulling out of FCPP and they were selling their 7 percent shares. But on Thursday, NTEC Chief Executive Officer/President Steve Gunderson said that El Paso’s share had been purchased. Gunderson declined to name the buyer. But when the Council learned of El Paso’s exit from FCPP the last week, there was talk of the tribe buying El Paso’s share to keep the dirty deed moving.

Anyway, back to Legislation 0367-13, which if approved by Council, the additional parties to the dirty deed would be two coal mining reclamation insurance companies – Arch Insurance Company & Zurick American Insurance Company. Oh I forgot to mention that the New Mexico State Courts would also be involved if the Council approves Legislation 0367-13 by a two-thirds vote, which is 16 “Yes” votes and the Council has to approve Legislation 0367-13 with 16 “Yes” votes or more because Navajo law mandates that for the Council to waive tribal sovereignty immunity that is must be approved by two-thirds of the Council. And yes, Legislation 0367-13 calls for 100 percent waiver of tribal sovereign immunity, which is why the NM courts are involved. If there are any legal disputes among the numerous parties over reclamation insurance, it doesn’t go to the Navajo courts. The Council has already approved the use of federal courts in New York to settle disputes related to the tribe taking over the operation of the coal mine from BHP and having BHP operate it for the tribe under an agreement with NTEC. The Council did that when it released BHP and NTEC from all past, current and future liabilities related to the coal mine because NTEC and Delegate Bates told the Council that if they didn’t waive all liabilities – past, current and future – the dirty deed would die.

According to Delegate Bates, who made a presentation to the Council’s Resources & Development Committee on Dec. 18, if Legislation 0367-13 is not approved that’s a “deal killer” too. The RDC approved Legislation 0367-13 with a vote of 3 in favor, 2 opposed. It was a tie vote of 2 – 2 but RDC Vice Chairperson Roscoe Smith, who was presiding over the RDC meeting, broke the tie with his Yes vote. And according to Naabi’s proposed agenda for Dec. 23, Monday, RDC VC Smith is now co-sponsor with Delegate Bates of Legislation 0367-13, which initially was sponsored by Delegate Bates and Katherine Benally, who is RDC chairperson.




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