Navajo Nation Signs On to Alternative Proposal to EPA’s Proposed BART Rulemaking for NGS

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Contact: Stephen Etsitty
Executive Director
Navajo Nation EPA
stephenbetsitty@navajo-nsn.gov
Cell 505-870-6595

For Immediate Release

Navajo Nation Signs On to Alternative Proposal to EPA’s Proposed Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) Rulemaking for Navajo Generating Station

WASHINGTON— In an effort to save more than 1,000 private sector jobs at the Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine the Navajo Nation has signed on to a “Reasonable Progress to BART Alternative Proposal” in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule for Navajo Generating Station published Feb. 5, 2013.

The Alternative Proposal was developed by a diverse group of stakeholders including the Navajo Nation who formed a Technical Workgroup (TWG) actively engaged since March 2013.

The Alternative Proposal includes the following: 

(a) a proposed Reasonable Progress Alternative to BART, to be submitted to the EPA for its consideration to issue as the Final BART Rule;

(b) Department of Interior commitment to study of options for replacing the federal share of energy from NGS with low-emitting Energy;

(c) Department of Interior’s commitment to reduce or offset CO2 emissions, and facilitate the development of clean energy;

(d) Department of Interior commits to mitigate potential impacts from the Final BART Rule and other developments on the Navajo Nation and other affected tribes;

(e) Department of Interior, Energy and EPA’s commitment to carry out the NREL Phase 2 Study for the purposes of studying options for the future of NGS;

(f) a Local Benefit Fund for community improvement projects within 100 miles of NGS or Kayenta Mine Complex; and

(g) obligations of the Parties and other legal provisions to support the proposed alternative.

Participation in the TWG provided an opportunity to highlight the Nation’s concerns about the federal trust responsibility that must be upheld and considered in EPA rulemaking decisions; the impacts of existing burdensome regulation hindering development on the Navajo Nation; and the understanding of the past agreements and compromises that led to the construction and operations of NGS on Navajo Nation lands.

It was stressed to the TWG that NGS and Kayenta Mine provide more than 1,000 private sector jobs and support thousands of public sector jobs in the Navajo Nation government; and that current and future payments generated by NGS directly benefit the Nation and will be critical for a long-term transition to a diverse energy portfolio and securing future water rights.

The Nation has long held that NGS should maintain operations without closing or curtailing any units, however, in response to the current EPA proposed rule and to Nevada Energy’s decision to exit NGS in 2019, the Reasonable Progress Alternative is seen as a reasonable compromise by all parties.

“There is still much work to be done to maintain compliance with the Clean Air Act, the Regional Haze Rule, and future rules while supporting the continued dedicated efforts of industry, the Navajo Nation, and EPA to balance air quality goals with economic prosperity. Mitigation of job losses and impacts to the regional economy are still my concern,” President Shelly added.

NGS employs around 528 people, 74 percent of whom are members of the Nation, and approximately 300 seasonal employees hired by the plant, with 93 percent of those being Navajo. Revenues to the Nation in the form of royalties and taxes paid by the Kayenta Mine are approximately $45 million. The Kayenta Mine is also a major employer on the Navajo Nation, with 400 employees, 90 percent of whom are Navajo tribal citizens. Salary and benefits paid by the Kayenta Mine exceeded $51 million.

“EPA should involve tribal governments as early as possible, and fully consider tribal government interests as co-managers in environmental protection especially when EPA’s actions directly affect Indian country. I will continue to consult with EPA and submit additional information that should be considered in a full analysis of the factors required by the Regional Haze Rule,” said President Shelly.

“The public comment period closes Oct. 4, 2013. I encourage everyone to submit comments and to participate in the upcoming public hearings. We are going to do everything we can to ensure that jobs are protected at Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine. Our people depend on the jobs provided by the power plant and the mine, we must make sure they will still be able to put food on the table for their family in the years to come,” President Shelly said.

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