Navajo EPA Director Addresses Environmental Regulations

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Contact: Jared King
T 202.682.7390
C 202.200.0625

For Immediate Release

Navajo EPA Director Addresses Environmental Regulations

WASHINGTON—Navajo Nation EPA Executive Director Stephen Etsitty testified before the House Subcommittee on Water and Power today regarding “EPA Enforcement Priorities and Practices.”

In his testimony, Etsitty focused on the EPA Regional Haze Rule and the BART determination processes.

“Because of the Navajo Nation’s substantial coal reserves and potential jobs in the energy sector, the Regional Haze Rule and other EPA rules will have long reaching impacts on the Navajo Nation’s sovereignty, including the Navajo Nation’s ability to independently develop its natural resource economy and provide economic security for its tribal members,” Etsitty said.

The Navajo Nation has two coal-fired plants and associated mines. The 1800-megawatt San Juan Generating Station and San Juan mine are located off the reservation and have a significant positive economic impact on the Navajo Nation and on the regional economy. The plant and mine combined employ approximately 318 Navajos. This includes jobs that are about 2.75 times the average Navajo Nation household income of about $20,000.

This loss of revenue would reduce spending by about $25 million per year and a loss of nearly $1 million annually in sales tax receipts. Closure of the San Juan plant or the San Juan mine would increase unemployment, resulting in increased demands for social services.

The EPA’s recent rulemaking under the Regional Haze Rule imposes excessively stringent and expensive BART Selective Catalytic Reduction control technology (SCR) on the plant and jeopardizes the continued viability of the power plant.    

“EPA has an obligation to meaningfully consult with the Navajo Nation for rulemakings directly affecting the Navajo Nation before proposing a draft rule and after promulgating a final rule. That was not done for the proposed Federal Implementation Plan for San Juan, or for the advance notice of proposed rulemaking for the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Generating Station, and EPA therefore violated its consultation obligations and trust responsibility to the Navajo Nation,” Etsitty said.

Etsitty emphasized the Navajo Nation’s support for substantive goals of the Clean Air Act, and the goal of the Regional Haze Rule to improve visibility at Class I areas. Much of the Navajo Nation is in close proximity to areas covered by the Regional Haze Rule known as “Class I” areas under Clean Air Act. Etsitty said implementation by EPA of the Regional Haze Rule and BART must be done with due analysis and accommodation of the critical economic interests of the Navajo Nation.


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