Speaking Diné to Dirty Power: Navajo Challenge New Coal-Fired Plant Jeff ConantApril 3rd, 2007
A small, but growing, group of Diné indigenous peoples in New Mexico are protesting against a planned new huge coal-fired power plant. This is one of 150 similar plants scheduled to supply an anticipated boom in energy demand in the U.S.
In a makeshift hut on a hilltop in the high desert near Farmington, New Mexico, local schoolteacher David Nez projects a PowerPoint presentation on a blanket nailed to the wall. Outside the door, a small wind and solar generator silently provides the electricity for his computer-aided presentation. Less than a mile away, a different technology rules. Smoke plumes mark the horizon from huge coal-fired power plants, as an enormous crane rips into the Navajo coal mine, the largest open pit mine in the western U.S.If plans go through for a massive new plant, co-owned by Houston-based Sithe Global Power and the Diné Power Authority (DPA), another coal-fired facility will generate electricity on the lands of the Diné indigenous peoples (also known as the Navajo by the colonizers). This tribal enterprise has split the Navajo Nation, with some praising the opportunity for economic development and others decrying the inevitable effect on environment and values.
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