Navajo residents seek ‘just and equitable’ help after closure of power plant, coal mine

Navajo Generating System, along with the Kayenta Mine, had employed about 700 workers and brought in between $30 million to $50 million in revenue for the Navajo Nation.

By Arlyssa Becenti |Arizona Republic

Roberto Nutlouis says residents of Navajo Nation communities directly hurt by the closure of a huge coal-fired power plant near Page deserve a just and equitable transition from the coal industry, which adversely affected the area’s land, water and people while benefitting cities like Phoenix and Tucson. 

Nutlouis, who lives in Pinon, made his case last week to Sandra Kennedy, a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, who visited the Hardrock Chapter House on the Navajo Nation to hear about what’s happened in the region since the November 2019 closure of the Navajo Generating Station and the coal mining operations that supplied it.

Similar meetings were held in Tuba City, Kayenta and on the Hopi reservation.

“There’s a lot of lack of basic infrastructure here in the Black Mesa region,” Nutlouis told Kennedy. “A lot of these infrastructures should’ve been developed but unfortunately through these unjust policies created, and contracts that were negotiated, we lost billions of dollars that could’ve been invested in our communities for social development.”

Navajo Generating System, along with the Kayenta Mine, had employed about 700 workers and brought in between $30 million to $50 million in revenue for the Navajo Nation. For much of its 40-year lifespan, the power plant helped move water from the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project Canal to Phoenix and Tucson, allowing those cities to grow.

“We basically subsidized those dollars again, for the development of Phoenix and the way we see it today, for Tucson, and other cities that have benefited,” Nutlouis said. “Arizona the state has reaped billions in revenues from taxes that were paid from all of this. Just and equitable transition is what we are owed.”

Upgrades for the Navajo Nation:$1B in recovery funds to update infrastructure and create new jobs

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