Navajo Nation leaders are voicing concern about the likely closure of the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona.
On Monday, owners of the coal-fired power plant said they want to close it by December 2019, when a lease with the nation expires, for economic reasons. However, Navajo President Russell Begaye said in a prepared statement that the tribe had hoped it would keep operating until at least 2030. Begaye called on the owners to reconsider and appealed to President Trump to make good on his campaign promise to support the coal industry. In another release, tribal council Speaker LoRenzo Bates expressed concern for the hundreds of workers employed both by the plant and by Peabody’s Kayenta coal mine in northern Arizona, which feeds it. Bates said revenues from the Navajo Generating Station and the mine provide more than 30 percent of the Navajo Nation’s annual revenues and over 80 percent of the Hopi Tribe’s. But competition from cheap natural gas has undercut the plant’s economics, and it has long been under criticism as one of the most-polluting plants in the country. A coalition of Navajo environmental groups including Diné CARE released a statement saying the pending closure is an opportunity “to make amends for decades of pollution and injustice and to map out a far more sustainable future through clean energy.”