VIDEO: Salt River Project: Navajo could represent Hopi

Here is Part 3 of Navajo Generating Station Forum, which was held at Northern Arizona Museum, Flagstaff, on Nov. 20, 2013. The NAM also hosted the NGS Forum and among the forum speakers was Salt River Project director for environmental management and policy Kelly Baar, who was the first speaker.

In her presentation about TWG’s BART, Barr noticed that the environmental impact study for NGS would take several years and hopeful end in 2018, a year before NGS’s lease ends.

The Navajo Nation recently approved a lease renewal for NGS from 2019 to 2044, which President Shelly signed during a press conference with Salt River Project.

During Barr’s presentation, she emphasized the following point, which inadvertantly exploded a can of worms.

“If the owners, and this is an important point, and I want to make sure that everyone understand this point because sometimes people get upset when they hear me say this. If EPA were to require us to install pollution control equipment, SCRs, which would cost about $560 million, if we’re required to do that before 2018, before we have the NEPA process complete, we believe that the owners would decide to close the plant because we wouldn’t know, we would be asked to make this huge investment in the power plant without knowing if it’s going to continue beyond 2018.

So we wouldn’t be able to amortize our investment beyond 2018. It’s a little bit like a renter in an apartment and wanting to make some renovations but not knowing whether your lease will be extended. Are you going to make a $10,000, bunch of improvements without knowing that you can lease your apartment beyond the first of the year. Probably not. It’s the same idea.

So does everybody understand that major piece because that’s really important. So because of the concerns about timing, SRP formed, working with other stakeholders, formed the Technical Work Group: Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Environmental Defense Fund, Gila River Indian Community-the largest off taker of CAP water, the Navajo Nation, SRP, the Sierra Club-started with the process but withdrew midway through the process, the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation and Western Resource Advocates.

UNIDENTIFIED HOPI MAN asks Barr why the Hopi Tribe was not part of TWG?
Barr answers: “We tried to make sure everybody at the table was represented in some way. And we realized that there were lots and lots of folks who wanted to be at this table. Ultimately we decided that because the Navajos had such a major position in the plant. It’s located on their land. That they would certainly be able to represent any of the views of the Hopi. And that as soon…

Before Barr could finish her next sentence, several Hopi people in the audience immediately and loudly challenged her statement that Navajo could represent the Hopi. Some people also laughed at her explanation of why Hopi was not part of the Technical Work Group.

After taking her LEG out of her mouth, Barr said, “Let me just follow-up and say that for the folks around the table – you see that there were other groups – that this process started in 2010. Bill (Auberle) was facilitating that group that had about a hundred representatives and Hopi probably participated in that. We knew that at the end of the day, we weren’t and with the short amount of time we weren’t going to be able to get to a final conclusion if we had included a hundred people. So we made some choices about who could be at the table. I know that people are disappointed that we couldn’t allow the hundred folks or so.

“Well, let me say this. So you’re saying that the Hopi Tribe is not a stakeholder even though we sell coal to NGS. How do you define that as not a stakeholder.”

Barr immediately responds: “The Hopi Tribe is definitely a stakeholder. But so were the hundred people that participated.”

“But the other hundred don’t sell coal to NGS. I’m emphasizing that the Hopi Tribe sells coal.”

As the unidentified Hopi man is talking, Barr is also trying to talk. “I understand,” she says, “Absolutely. You’ll notice that Peabody wasn’t at the table either.”

“Well, I’m not worried about Peabody.”

His statement draws laughter from the audience.

Barr says, “I understand that. I fully admit that there were lot of folks who wanted to be at the table. Absolutely. They’re stakeholders and we need to hear and understand their concerns. We could have had everybody at the table but it wouldn’t have been productive.”

An elderly Native American woman calls out to Barr, “Mam, I have a question, please.”

Auberle jumps to Barr’s rescue.
“We’re going to talk about this very issue later – composition of the work group. But I think we need to get on with the discussion and we’ll circle back to this so you can hear a number of perspectives about who participated in the discussions and who did not,” says Auberle.

Auberle’s words don’t discourage the elderly Native American woman, who told Auberle and Barr, “Well, since the Department of the Interior is trustee of the Hopi Tribe, why are they allowing this to happen. We are stakeholders. I want an answer to that. Why we were not included.”

Auberle says, “And we’ll talk about that after we hear these conversations, including the Department of the Interior.”

Barr returns to her presentation.


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