Navajo Nation Attorney General Addresses Environmental Regulations
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie testified today before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) ruling. The hearing titled “The American Energy Initiative: What EPA’s MACT Utility Rule will Cost U.S. Consumers” focused on the overall economic impact of the recent U.S. EPA actions specific to curbing mercury emissions from power plants.
The EPA ruling would require power plants to reduce mercury emissions within three years which is an accelerated pace compared to recent emissions control rules.
“MACT is one of many regulations that in culmination with other regulations could result in the closure of power plants located on or near the Navajo Nation meaning massive job and revenue loss to the Navajo Nation,” Attorney General Tsosie said.
In addition to depicting the dire economic impact of regulatory burdens witnesses testified to the statistically insignificant role the emissions reduction would have in improving overall health citing the EPA’s own data set. The cost associated with the emissions control is arguably a large investment with little effect on actual mercury emissions.
At issue for the Navajo Nation regarding the formulation of the MACT rule was the lack of upfront tribal engagement. U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy when asked about her office’s interaction and consultation with Indian tribes responded that she was “working closely with the Navajo.” Attorney General Tsosie countered in his testimony that the "U.S. EPA held no tribal consultations as required by the Administration's Executive Order.” McCarthy’s office did not, in fact, engage with the Navajo Nation until well after the proposed rule was made in May 2011 and only recently visited the Navajo Nation after the final rule.
The Navajo Nation supports the goal of reducing hazardous emissions and recommends a tailored implementation coupled with proven health benefits to balance the potential economic impacts to the Navajo Nation.
UPDATE: Quote in paragraph three attributed to Attorney General Harrison Tsosie.
CORRECTION: Corrects House Subcommittee on Energy and Power in paragraph one. Date is May 2011 in paragraph five.
(Photo: Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie at the House Subcommittee Energy and Power hearing on What EPA's MACT Utlity Rule will Cost U.S. Consumers. Photo by Jared King / Navajo Nation. Visit the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power to watch the archived webcast. Mr. Tsosie's testimony before the Committee begins at the 2:08:25 mark. )