At what price power? - the Navajo Coal Power Plant

Four Corners Power Plant

The Energy Challenge: Navajos and Environmentalists Split on Power Plant - The struggle over a proposal for a huge coal-fired power plant on a Navajo reservation is a homegrown version of the global debate on climate change. [NYT - Environment]

Here is a global issue striking close to home. How do we balance the needs of a community for jobs, income and electricity with the need for clean air, clean water (without mercury poisoning) and a stable environment (i.e. CO2 emissions).

"Navajo president, Joe Shirley Jr., said ... the plant here would mean hundreds of jobs, higher incomes and better lives for some of the 200,000 people on the reservation. The tribe derives little direct financial benefit from the operation of the existing coal-fired plants and it has not yet invested heavily in casinos."


"The Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, teaming with local groups like the San Juan Citizens’ Alliance, point to environmental shortcomings in the federal government’s tentative blessing of the plant, as laid out in a 1,600-page draft environmental impact statement and an analysis by the Bureau of Indian Affairs."

Replacing our electrical appliances with more efficient models (don't forget Compact Fluorescents) will help reduce the need for future power plants, but that doesn't help the Navajo today. What can the Navajo do now to address the high unemployment among indigenous people in the Four Corners region without adversely affecting the environment? Is a coal plant with carbon capture technology the answer, or is there something better?