Navajo and Hopi Tribes Take Aim at Green Groups over Coal Fired Power Plants

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Oct. 2 (UPI) — The Navajo Nation has backed Hopi leaders in their fight against environmentalists who oppose coal-fired power plants in northern Arizona.

The plants are crucial to the economies of tribes, The Arizona Republic reports. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. took aim at environmentalists who are trying to stop the proposed $2.5 billion Desert Rock Energy Project, a coal-powered power facility that would be built on the reservation.

Shirley called it “the most important economic development project in our nation’s history.”

“These are individuals and groups who claim to have put the welfare of fish and insects above the survival of the Navajo people when, in fact, their only goal is to stop the use of coal in the U.S. and the Navajo Nation,” he said of the opponents.

The Hopis’ Tribal Council adopted a resolution this week telling the Sierra Club and other environmental groups to stay off the reservation. Tina May, a tribal spokeswoman, said the green groups have hurt the tribe’s economy by trying to close the Navajo Generating Station near Page.

Andy Bessler, the Sierra Club’s Southwest representative, lays the blame for the Native American leaders’ criticism on Peabody Energy, which operates mines on both Indian reservations.

A Peabody spokeswoman would not comment.

Bessler said Sierra works with both tribes on environmentally sensitive projects and tribal members support efforts to reduce carbon pollution.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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