Navajo Environmental Group on Navajo Generating Station

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Hear from Percy Deal of Dine CARE, or Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, about their view on the decision to close the Navajo Generating Station. Dine CARE would like the water used at the power plant be given back to the Navajo Nation, plus a cleanup and a transition to clean energy.

TED: WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE NAVAJO GENERATING STATION AND THE PLAN TO KEEP THE COAL-FIRED PLANT RUNNING FOR A FEW MORE YEARS. IN ORDER FOR THAT TO HAPPEN, A LEASE AGREEMENT WILL NEED TO BE REACHED WITH THE NAVAJO NATION. AND WHILE THE PLANT MEANS OVER 800-JOBS TO THE AREA, NOT EVERYONE ON THE NAVAJO NATION IS IN FAVOR OF KEEPING THE PLANT OPEN. HERE NOW IS PERCY DEAL, HE IS WITH DINE CARE, OR CITIZENS AGAINST RUINING OUR ENVIRONMENT. WELCOME TO ARIZONA "HORIZON." GOOD TO HAVE YOU.

PERCY DEAL: THANK YOU.

TED: YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE PLANT CLOSING AT THE END OF 2019?

PERCY DEAL: MY THOUGHTS?

TED: YES.

PERCY DEAL: I GUESS OUR POSITION, THOSE OF US THAT LIVE NEAR THE AREA, WHETHER IT BE ON THE PLANT SIDE OR THE MINE SIDE, WE WOULD MUCH RATHER SEE THE OPERATION COME TO AN END IN 2019 RATHER THAN CONTINUE. THE REASON WHY WE FEEL THAT WAY IS BECAUSE FOR THE LAST 50 YEARS, THOSE TWO INDUSTRIES HAVE DENIED US WATER. WE DON'T HAVE ANY WATER. ANY DON'T HAVE RUNNING WATER IN MANY OF OUR PLACES UP THERE. SO IF BOTH THE MINE AND THE PLOWER PLANT WERE TO CONTINUE IT WILL DENY US MORE WATER FOR THAT MANY MORE YEARS. WE WOULD LIKE TO ENJOY OUR WATER THAT HAS BEEN DEDICATED SINCE 1968 TO THE POWER PLANT AND PEABODY FOR THEIR OPERATION.

TED: THE 800-PLUS JOBS. LOTS OF JOBS WOULD BE LOST IF THE PLANT CLOSES DOWN. IS THAT A CONCERN?

PERCY DEAL: THAT IS A CONCERN TO US. TWO THINGS ABOUT THAT. NUMBER ONE IS THAT WE FEEL THAT THAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF SRP AND PEABODY. WHEN THEY FIRST SIGNED THE AGREEMENT, 50 YEARS AGO, THERE SHOULD BE A SECTION SAYING THIS IS HOW WE ARE GOING TO CLOSE THE PLANT. THEY SHOULD TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING FOR EMPLOYEES. WE FEEL IT IS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY. THE SECOND THING IS WE LIKE TO SEE -- I WENT TO ONE OF THOSE COMMUNITY MEETINGS NOT TOO LONG AGO. THIS COMMUNITY WAS LOCATED HALFWAY BETWEEN THE PLANT AND THE MINE. I SAT THERE AND LISTENED TO THEM. ONE OF THE QUESTIONS RAISED WAS IF YOU WERE A MINE WORKER WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR YOUR NEXT PAYCHECK? AND I WAS QUITE SURPRISED NONE OF THEM TALKED ABOUT THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE POWER PLANT OR MINE CONTINUE. THEY TALKED ABOUT BRINGING IN BUSINESSES THAT DOES NOT USE THAT MUCH WATER. DO YOU WANT TO BRING IN BUSINESSES THAT DOES NOT POLLUTE AND THAT WOULD PROVIDE THE REVENUE AND THE JOBS FOR THE COMMUNITY. THAT IS WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT. WE FEEL THE SAME WAY. THE OTHER THING IS WE HAVE AN ABUNDANT AND THERE HAS BEEN A NUMBER OF STUDIES THAT HAVE BEEN DONE BUT WE HAVE AN ABUNDANT AMOUNT OF RENEWABLE RESOURCES THAT ARE AVAILABLE AFTER SUNSHINE, SOLAR, AND THE WIND THAT IS AVAILABLE. AND WE FEEL THAT THERE SHOULD BE TRANSITION MOVING IN THAT DIRECTION.

TED: THE NAVAJO PRESIDENT SAID IT IS TOO EARLY TO CLOSE THE PLANT. THEY SAID WANT TO KEEP THE JOBS THERE AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?

PERCY DEAL: I WILL SUPPORT THE EFFORT TO CONTINUE THE JOBS WHETHER IT IS THERE, OVER HERE OR ELSEWHERE. BUT I DO DISAGREE WITH HIM ASKING PRESIDENT TRUMP TO COME IN AND EXTEND ALL THE WAY TO 2044. I DISAGREE BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH DAMAGE AS FAR AS ENVIRONMENTALLY THAT HAS BEEN DONE TO THE AIR AND THE CLEANUP ON THE WATER. WE DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH OF THAT WATER IS CONTAMINATED. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A THOROUGH MEASURE. WE DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH OF THE WATER IS STILL IN THE AQUAFER. I HAD A COUPLE LETTERS I RECEIVED FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE LIVING IN THE AREA, VERY CLOSE TO THE AREA, THEY ARE SAYING THAT WE HAVE A HEALTH PROBLEM. RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS AS A RESULT OF THESE TWO INDUSTRIES. THEY HAD TO GO TO THE DOCTOR AND WERE GIVEN AN INSTRUMENT THEY CAN USE TO HELP THEM BREATHE. THERE IS LUNG PROBLEMS AND WE ALSO KNOW THERE HAS BEEN STUDIES ELSEWHERE WHERE THERE IS MINES AND POWER PLANTS AND THERE IS HEALTH IMPACTS. WE NEVER HAVE HAD A STUDY IN THE AREA AND THAT IS WHAT REALLY NEEDS TO BE STUDIED UP THERE.

TED: LAST QUESTION, HOW DIVIDED IS THE NAVAJO NATION ON THIS POSITION?

PERCY DEAL: I AM NOT REALLY SURE. I DID GO TO A COUPLE OR THREE MEETINGS. I JUST EXPLAINED THAT POSITION AND I HAVEN'T HAD ANYBODY CONFRONT ME AND SAY HEY, WHY DID YOU TALK LIKE THAT? WHY DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT? BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, I RECEIVED A NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE PRESIDENT SAYING WHAT HE DID, BROUGHT IN THE BIGGER PRESIDENT FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. AND WANTED HELPED HIM TO EXTEND ALL THE WAY INTO THE 2024.

TED: ALL RIGHT. INTERESTING POSITION FROM THE RESERVATION AND SOUNDS LIKE 2019 YOU HAVE A WHOLE NEW EFFORT ON YOUR HAND. GOOD TO YOU HERE. APPRECIATE IT.

PERCY DEAL: THANK YOU.

Percy Deal: Dine CARE

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