Desert Rock: The Battle Continues...
On the wall in my office hangs a photo. Captured in the photo is a run-down car bordered by a desert landscape. This is my grandfather’s old Chevy where it sits on our family’s reservation. Just within walking distance is a hogan, a horse corral and a sheep pen. There are no paved roads. No nearby neighbors. Only “nil-chi-tso” (Navajo for big wind) and the sounds of the animals to keep my family company.
Just seventy miles from this old Chevy door, Sithe Global plans to build their front door to a 1500 MW coal-fired power plant. Plans for this coal plant, known as Desert Rock, have long been in the making and its proponents are numerous. Native groups from around the country have been protesting construction of the plant. The Navajo are no stranger to dirty energy. Home to abandoned uranium mines and ravaged coal mines, the Navajo continue to feel the negative affects of outsiders who come to do bad business on the reservation. The construction of Desert Rock will only mean dirty air and water for my family.
Just over a week ago, the EPA unveiled a daunting hurdle for the coal-fired plant. In an unexpected move, the EPA voluntarily remanded the air permit issued for Desert Rock. This decision has uprooted Sithe’s plans and shaken the Navajo Nation’s vote to host the project.
This decision is a huge victory for the health of the Navajo people, but I am saddened to say the decision is not final. The decision is merely a hurdle in the administrative process of finalizing the project. By remanding the permit, the EPA is now taking time to reconsider parts of the permit that were appealed after its issuance. Nonetheless, Native groups and Navajo citizens continue to fight the long battle against the coal-fired power plant. Meanwhile, just seventy miles away the wind blows to my family’s front door.