Navajo Generating Station Forum becomes People’s Forum

Greetings Relatives/Frens,
I’ve been on the road – again. I traveled to Flagstaff, Ariz., for a very lively and entertaining forum on Navajo Generating Station on Nov. 20, 2013. Northern Arizona Museum hosted the forum, which is part of a series on “The Future of the Colorado Plateau.” The NGS Forum was the first one.
It was scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. but it ended about 10 p.m.

Northern Arizona Museum president Robert G. Breunig gave introductory remarks and introduced the moderator for forum, William M. Auberle, an engineer that works for Pinyon Environmental Inc., of Flagstaff, said he facilitated the Technical Working Group, which created a proposed alternative to the U.S. EPA for Navajo Generating Station to reduce its pollution. During the forum, it was also learned that Breunig facilitated the negotiations among stakeholders in the lease renewal for Navajo Generating Station since 2010. The Navajo Nation Council approved the NGS lease renewal in July and President Ben Shelly held a signing ceremony with his negotiating team and Salt River Project.

Among Shelly’s NGS lease renewal negotiating team was Navajo Environmental Protection Agency director Stephen Etsitty, who was among the four TWG members that were on the NGS forum panel. The other three forum speakers were Salt River Project director for environmental management and policy Kelly Barr, U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation Assistant Regional Director, Lower Colorado Region, David Palumbo, and Environmental Defense Fund attorney and Clean Air Director Vickie Patton.

According to the NGS Forum annuoncement from Northern Arizona Museum, several of the “major negotiators” that developed the alternative proposal to reduce NGS pollution would be on the panel to tell the “inside story.” But that didn’t happen. Instead Barr, Etsitty and Palumbo talked about the benefits of the TWG proposal. Patton made a beautiful speech about the importance of preserving water on the Black Mesa for the Navajo and Hopi people.

And Barr also used scare tactics. She told everone at the forum that if the U.S. EPA forces poor little NGS to install pollution controls, which would cost $560 million, before 2018 that “we believe” the owners would close NGS because the timeing was all wrong for the owners to really know if it was worth investing $560 million into NGS before the lease was approved by the US Interior Department.

Since NGS is on Navajo land, which is federal trust land, the Interior Department is federally mandated to review and approve the NGS lease renewal, which also includes a coal agreement between NGS and Peabody, which operates a coal mine on Black Mesa and is the sole source of coal for NGS. The Navajo government has a coal lease with Peabody and so does the Hopi Tribe.

And yes, the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation is identified as one of the NGS owners, which is why a Hopi community member asked BOR assistant regional director Palumbo to justify the Interior’s conflict of interest regarding its involvement in TWG, NGS, and Peabody.

I finished three of probably five or six short videoes of the NGS Forum at Northern Arizona Museum in Flagstaff on Nov. 20, 2013. I posted the three videos on YouTube and I’ll try posting them on my blog in two separate blogs. I’ve titled my videos: NGS Forum Part 1, 2, and 3.

Part 1 is Museum President Breunig explaining why the museum is hosting a forum on Navajo Generating Station.

Part 2 is NGS Forum moderator Auberle reminising and talking about TWG and its “historic agreement” to propose an alternative to EPA to reduce NGS pollution.

Part 3 is SRP Barr presenting TWG’s proposed alternative which drew questions from Hopi community members about why Hopi was not invited to be part of TWG.

I’ll post Parts 1 and 2 in one blog and Part 2 in separate blog because it’s pretty lengthy. Hopefully, I can post them on my blog. And I’ll continue working on Parts 4, 5 and maybe 6.

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