I was going thru my posts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s hearings on two options for Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz., to reduce its dangerous pollution and saw that this one didn’t get posted. It went into the Draft file.
This post is towards the end of the Hearing at Pima Community College in Tucson on Nov. 15, 2013, and after Navajo EPA director Stephen Etsitty spoke. I was at EPA Hearings in LeChee, where Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said that Etsitty would make a comment at one of the remaining hearings. Etsitty and Tsosie both showed up at hearing at Hopi Day School in Kykotsmovi, Arz., on 11-13-13, where a majority of the speakers, Navajo and Hopi, spoke against the Technical Working Group’s BART option for NGS. The day before, a majority of the speakers, who were Navajo NGS workers and Peabody Kayenta coal miners and Anglo business people from Page, supported TWG’s NGS BART at the hearings in Lechee and Page.
Tsosie and Etsitty were part of TWG, which consists of SRP hand-picking individuals from the Navajo Nation, Gila River, Central Az Water Conservation District, the Environmental Defense Fund, U.S. Department of the Interior, Western Resource Advocates and the Salt River Project, which represented itself and the other NGS owners.
Many of thw Navajo speakers at Hopi were women and from the Hopi Partition Lands, which were created by a federal judge to end the media orchestrated Navajo-Hopi land dispute by non-Navajo and non-Hopi attorneys working for the Navajo and Hopi governments, who were also working for Peabody Coal Company, which pushed thru separate coal leases for the Navajo and Hopi governments to sign for top grade coal from the former Navajo-Hopi land dispute area. The leases also included Peabody’s use of water from a then untouched ancient underground water source, the Navajo Aquifer.
At the hearing on Hopi, I asked Tsosie and Etsitty if they were going to speak. Etsitty said he already spoke at LeChee. Etsitty said that Tsosie spoke for both of them. Both politcal appointees added that they were at the hearings “to listen.”
At the Tucson hearing, after once again hearing how the Navajo Nation supported TWG, which came from Etsitty, and after an Anglo lady told me that her decision to oppose TWG was hard to do after listening to the Navajo coal miners and NGS workers, who talked about how important their jobs were, I decided to make my statement to the U.S. EPA.
Here it is:
I understand that it is unusual for journalists to speak out on issues especially on one as controversial as this. But I am here to provide a historical perspective which is what journalists do. We report on current history, past history and even future history. And we do remember.
I remember being on Black Mesa reporting on the arrival of Peabody Coal. I have photos of huge cedar trees with trunks the width of this table. Those cedar trees were ripped out by their roots by Peabody’s strip mining.
There were elderly Navajo women standing in front of Peabody’s gigantic strip mining machines after their sons, grandson were arrested by Navajo police for blocking those same machines.
These elderly women then went to Window Rock, the seat of the Navajo govt where Navajo EPA director Steven Etsitty works. Mr. Etsitty commented here today and said that TWG included the Navajo people. I interviewed Mr. Etsitty and Attorney General Harrison Tsosie and they told me that they and a Navajo Department of Justice attorney were the only ones at the table.
But back to the elderly ladies, who traveled to Window Rock to speak to their elected officials about Peabody Coal. They were in tears because of the impact of strip mining on their homeland. I shud say former homeland because thousands of Navajo families including children were forcibly removed from their homes where they lived since time immemorial.
And what did their government leaders do to these elders who were supported by young Navajo men and women? They had them arrested. There are photos of Navajo police physically abusing the elders.
I clearly remember one of the elderly women predicting what is happening now. She said that if Chairman Peter MacDonald and the Navajo Council signed a lease with Peabody which feeds coal to Navajo Generating Station, that it wud create a civil war among the Navajo pple. And it has.
In closing I urge the federal government which is represented by the EPA to remember that their people don’t always support federal policies. Look at the Vietnam War and even the Iraq War.
When my fellow non-native journalists report on tribal government, they lose their sense of journalism standards by taking the statements of tribal elected officials as the voice of the people which they wud never do with a statement from the Az governor and President Obama.
The people’s voice shud carry as much weight, if not more, then their pubic servants.