Navajo Council work session: Proposed $1B bonding for NTEC

The Navajo Nation Council Naabik’iyati Committee work session begins at 1 p.m. in the auditorium of Department of Dine’ Education, Window Rock, Arizona, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.

The work session is in response to the Council’s tabling of Emergency Legislation #0319-19: Sponsored by: Delegate Vince James and Carl Slater.

On Oct. 23, Council Delegates Edmund Yazzie and Nathaniel Brown called for the Council’s tabling of emergency Legislation 0319-19 to obtain all the documents related to 0319-19 so the Council fully understands the impact of their vote on it.

According to Legislation 0319-19, the Navajo Nation learned that certain surety companies may seek to use the Nation’s prior limited consent in NTEC’s general indemnity agreement, which was intended solely for the financial backing of surety bonds for Navajo Mine and its coal supply compact, and not for the financial backing of any future bonds, including bonds related to the Cloud Peak coal mines.

Navajo Nation legal and financial staff have accused NTEC of using the Council’s 2013 and 2015 resolutions as a back door for the Nation’s approval of the estimated $1 billion in bonding for NTEC to operate its three off the reservation coal mines and Navajo Mine, which would put all the Nation’s assets at risk, including its $15 billion Permanent Trust Fund..

The emergency bill, which Council Delegates Vince James and Carl-Slater sponsored, stated that the surety bonds or other financial assurances related to the reclamation of the Cloud Peak coal mines and other obligations for NTEC to own and operate the coal mines could total between $350 million and $400 million.

“The Navajo Nation does not agree that the sureties have the legal authority to use the NTEC general indemnity agreements to back the Cloud Peak mine bonds,” the James-Slater bill reads.

And according to the James-Slater bill, NTEC did not notify the Navajo Nation that NTEC was acquiring three coal mines located in Montana and Wyoming that belonged to Cloud Peak until Aug. 19, which was after completion of Cloud Peak’s federal bankruptcy auction.

According to the work session agenda of the Naabik’iyati, the title of the James-Slater bill is: “An Action: Relating to an Emergency for the Navajo Nation Council; Terminating the General Indemnity Agreements Granted Pursuant to Resolution Nos. CD-60-13 and CAP-13-15 for the Navajo Transitional Energy Company, L.L.C.”

When the Sames-Salter bill went before the Council on Oct. 23, 2019, the main motion was made by Delegate Wilson Stewart, Jr., and seconded by Delegate Paul Begay, Jr.

Delegates Daniel Tso and Mark Freeland proposed Amendment #1: Page 4 of 4, Line 13 and 14 amend as follows: A. … the Navajo Nation Council hereby terminates the NTEC General Indemnity Agreements issued pursuant to CD-60-13 and CAP-13-15 New Language: Effective mmediately, the Navajo Nation Council hereby exercises the termination provisions in paragraph 14 of the NTEC General Indemnity Agreements entered into pursuant to CD-60-13 and CAP-13-15. The Navajo Nation Council’s notice of termination shall not terminate, reduce, or discharge the Navajo Nation’s obligations regarding bonds for the Navajo Mine or Four Corners Power Plant issued prior to the date of this resolution.

Legislative staff provided the following summary from the Navajo Nation Council Fall Session; Day-3, October 23, 2019: Tabling Motion: Legislation 0319-19 Tabled to conduct a work session to discuss overall impact of the legislation (including financial implications) and to include all parties involved.
Legislation stays with Navajo Nation Council
Motioned by: Delegate Edmund Yazzie
Seconded by: Delegate Nathaniel Brown
Vote: 11 in Favor; 09 Opposed (Speaker Not Voting.)

The following presentations are scheduled for Wednesday’s (Nov. 6) work session: Presentations:
A. Navajo Department of Justice Doreen McPaul, Attorney General
B. Office of Legislative Counsel Dana Bobroff, Chief Legislative Counsel
C. Office of the Controller Pearline Kirk, Controller
D. Office of Management and Budget Dominic Beyal, OMB Director
E. Office of Risk Management Shawnevan Dale, Program Supervisor Risk Management

F. Navajo Transitional Energy Company Tim McLaughlin, Chair of the Board, Steve Grey, Director of Governmental and External Affairs
G. Bureau of Indian Affairs Bartholomew Stevens, Director, Navajo Region – Bureau of Indian Affairs

  1. Other Discussion; Follow-up Meetings; and Recommendations
  2. Conclusion of the Work SessioN

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