WINDOW ROCK -The owners of Navajo Generating Station (NGS) voted Monday to extend operations of the power plant until December 2019. Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye issued the following statement in response to Monday’s decision by the NGS owners:
“In good faith, the Navajo Nation had extensive negotiations with the owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) to develop an amendment to an agreement that would keep NGS in operation through 2044. To hear today that the owners did not honor the amendment made by the Navajo Nation is something we did not anticipate.
We fully understand the economic and environmental issues that surround the plant. We also know that NGS infuses $18 billion dollars into the entire economy of Arizona. It powers the Central Arizona Project, which in turn provides water to Tucson, Phoenix and other surrounding communities.
Though we appreciate NGS’ extension of plant operations up until 2019, we question what will happen beyond that time. The plant will have to be decommissioned in order to stop its operations. Additional infrastructure will have to be put in place to transition NGS from coal-burning to any other form of natural gas-based power generation.
The Navajo Nation stands on its proposal to keep NGS in operation until 2030 and our proposal is still on the table to keep it in operation until that time. Key players like Peabody Coal, which solely supplies coal to NGS, is willing to negotiate its coal supply agreement. The owners of NGS should reconsider and work with the Navajo Nation, Peabody and the Federal government in continuing the operation beyond 2019.
We are also hopeful that President Trump will stand by his commitment to support the coal industry. This dilemma provides an opportunity for the Trump administration to live up to its promise to the American people that it will stand behind the coal industry. We ask the Trump Administration to step in and see that NGS plant operations continue through 2044. Many people depend on this industry. It is a matter of national security.
Although we do appreciate the extension, we still demand that the owners of NGS honor the amendment to extend operations until at least 2030 and more specifically until 2044.”
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This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.