I received this email tonight from Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly’s office.
According to the press release, President Shelly gave the US Environmental Protection Agency a seven-page letter regarding his plea to them to withdraw their proposed rules for Navajo Generating Station to reduce its pollution, which would likely force NGS to shut down one of its three units or buy more than $2 billion worth of pollution controls for NGS’s three stacks.
The $2 billion figure comes from an interview I did with Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie and Navajo EPA Director Stephen Etsitty, shortly after Etsitty issued a press release about the signing of a “historic” agreement between NGS stakeholders – US Department of the Interior, Central Az Water Conservation District or CAP, the Navajo Nation, Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Project, Environmental Defense Fund and Western Resource Advocates to support an alternative plan or Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) for NGS to complay with federal environmental pollution laws.
All the NGS stakeholders signed the agreement because they were the ones that drafted the alternative BART – at the request of SRP, which operates NGS for its owners, who include the US Bureau of Reclamation. This group called itself the “Technical Working Group” or TWG, which they pronounce as twig.
Attorney General Tsosie and Navajo EPA Director Etsitty were TWG members. President Shelly also appointed them to be on the Navajo Nation’s negotiating team for the NGS’s lease extension. Both Tsosie and Etsitty are political appointees of Shelly, which means they serve at the pleasure of the president.
TWG’s alternative BART actually calls for one of NGS’s unit to be closed as a compromise to the US EPA for more time to comply with federal Air Quality laws. Recently, the focus on air quality has only been about visibility at the Grand Canyon and other national parks.
But in 2011, the US EPA issued rulings regarding NGS’s polluting the air with mercury and toxic air pollutants, such as arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium, and cyanide. At that time, the US EPA announced: The standards will slash emissions of these dangerous pollutants by relying on widely available, proven pollution controls that are already in use at more than half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
“EPA estimates that the new safeguards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year. The standards will also help America’s children grow up healthier – preventing 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year.
“By cutting emissions that are linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses like asthma, these standards represent a major victory for clean air and public health– and especially for the health of our children.
“With these standards that were two decades in the making, EPA is rounding out a year of incredible progress on clean air in America with another action that will benefit the American people for years to come,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will protect millions of families and children from harmful and costly air pollution and provide the American people with health benefits that far outweigh the costs of compliance.”
“Since toxic air pollution from power plants can make people sick and cut lives short, the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are a huge victory for public health,” said Albert A. Rizzo, MD, national volunteer chair of the American Lung Association, and pulmonary and critical care physician in Newark, Delaware. “The Lung Association expects all oil and coal-fired power plants to act now to protect all Americans, especially our children, from the health risks imposed by these dangerous air pollutants. (http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/bd8b3f37edf5716d8525796d005dd086!OpenDocument)
Based on President Shelly’s Aug. 29, 2013, press release and his testimony to Congress opposing the EPA’s 2011 standards for NGS, Shelly supports money for the tribal government’s treasury and jobs over the poisoning of the Navajo people, especially children.
“If your new rule forces us to shut down a unit from production, we will lose $300 million in our future revenue,” President Shelly told the EPA on Aug. 29, 2013. “The financial impact from years 2013 through 2044, are estimated at $295,421,819.00.”
At a Congressional hearing on the EPA’s 2011 ruling for NGS, President Shelly talked about how NGS had spent more than $650 million on environmental control technology to proactively address concerns.
“NGS is an essential component of the Navajo Nation’s economy and our energy portfolio, and must remain viable, for the sake of the Nation and our People, for years to come,” President Shelly testified to Congress in 2011.
President Shelly’s Aug. 29, 2013, press release: “President Shelly Tells U.S. EPA New Rule Must Consider Future Economic Impact”