Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Oral report to the Navajo Nation Council by the residents of the Peabody Coal Company lease area

April 18, 2005 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

We the residents of the Peabody Coal Company lease area are here today to report to the Navajo Nation Council to protest against the expansion of Peabody’s Black Mesa mine operation on Black Mesa. Our homes and communities are the most impacted area and therefore we oppose the new permit application pending before the Office of Surface Mining (OSM).

We also oppose the secret negotiations between the Navajo nation president, attorney general, and Peabody and it’s partners.

This past January-February we formerly requested OSM deny Peabody’s permit application because Peabody has not secured a permit for Black Mesa or the Black Mesa pipeline. Since 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation (SMCRA) were signed into law. After 25 years of mining the company has not fully complied with SMCRA.

The current negotiations between our tribal officials, the federal government and Peabody does not include our council delegates, spokes person, or representative from the impacted area. This questions the validity of this process in the lack of communication and collaboration with the affected people. Also this lack of transparency in our government is exclusionary. It is causing our young people to leave the Navajo nation and start a new life off the reservation.

We believe shutting down the black mesa mine and the slurry line will be a start in saving Black Mesa, precious groundwater, protect the life of our people and tribal sovereignty. Tribal sovereignty is not for sale and should not be. Before the mining operation, Peabody made a lot of promises such as getting water and electricity to all the homes, improving the roads and building schools and hospitals. Today after 30 years the people continue to haul water, use kerosene lamps, and travel on dirt roads.

Our children have to travel 1-2 hours to school. And sometimes they never make it to school during in climate weather. The people continue to drive on dirt roads and sometimes never get out during the heavy snow and during the raining seasons to get to the hospitals or to shop for food and supplies.

The health impacts of the people, as of right now, is not considered, nor has it ever been addressed by the tribal government and federal government environmental impact statement.The people of Black Mesa are suffering from respiratory illness, asthma LOPD, Black lung disease, and psoriasis.

The health impact on the people from the mining operation are significant in that we should shut down the mine and slurry line.

We ask that you listen to the people and strongly consider their concerns. We appreciate the time and opportunity to bring these very important issues and concerns before you.

Thank you speaker and members of the Navajo Nation Council

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