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Good News, Bad News on the Rez

The Navajo Nation — America’s largest Native American reservation — has breathtaking scenery, disheartening poverty, and a lot of sunny, windy days. So it was good news both on and off the Rez that the Nation has contracted with an East Coast renewable energy firm to build 500 megawatts of wind power generation there.

The bad news is that the Nation’s leaders appear to be still wed to a mercury-spewing, global warming nightmare of a coal-fired power plant known as Desert Rock. Just days before the Nation signed its contract for wind power, it sued the EPA for not taking time to carefully review the air permit for the coal plant.

Navajo activists at Dine CARE, conservation groups (including Earthjustice), and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson have all questioned the environmental costs of Desert Rock. And those costs may be going up, as new EPA smog standards may turn down-wind San Juan County, New Mexico into a "non-attainment area" that faces new controls on industry and autos.

So despite the good news on wind power, it looks like those hoping to clear the air over the Rez will have their hands full in the future.

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