Environment & the World

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Environmental Justice on Navajo Reservation

Filed under: Energy, Environmental Justice, Waste — Cathy @ 12:41 am

I wanted to give some publicity here to a struggle that some Navajo Indians are waging to protect their community from a coal power plant to be built on their reservation.  The Desert Rock power plant would be constructed in the sacred region of Dinetah (in New Mexico), a region which already has 2 power plants and where the air is so dirty that people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses have difficulty breathing.  Moreover, the electricity from power plants on Navajo land primarily supplies non-Indians, so that many Navajos in the region still live without electricity, according to http://www.unobserver.com/layout5.php?id=2951&blz=1.

Last week, local residents started a blockade after learning that water drilling had been started without notifying the local residents. They are refusing to move until they get documents that would prove that the company has complied with Clean Water Act requirements.  In what appears to be an attempt to intimidate the protestors, the sheepdog of an 80-year-old elder protestor was brutally killed, according to http://www.gallupindependent.com/2006/dec/121606lw_dogskinnedalive.html.

It’s too easy to think that the historical injustices that European settlers perpetrated against native populations in the United States were just that – historical.  This incident is a good reminder that we still have a long way to go to make amends for past and current wrongs.  Moreover, this is not an isolated incident.  In Arizona, Native Americans are trying to halt expansion of a hazardous waste site on their land; the Navajo Nation is fighting in federal
court to protect a sacred mountain from a proposed ski resort; etc. More info and suggested opportunities for action on this issue can be found at the Indigenous Environmental Network’s website:
http://www.ienearth.org/alerts.html#dine121406.

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