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News Release: OSM Approves Black Mesa Project Final EIS

December 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Action Alerts, Voices from the Land

News Release

For Immediate Release Contact: Calvin Johnson

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


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Leupp, AZ- On Monday, December 22nd, 2008, the Denver based Office of Surface Mining (OSM) approved the Black Mesa Project (BMP) Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) despite the local residents and Navajo community members objection.

OSM’s decision paves a way for Peabody to expand the mine by 18,857 acres with a life-of-mine permit and will allow them to continue to pump four hundred million gallons/yr of N-Aquifer as well as relocate five Navajo families.

During the summer, citizens and organizations requested OSM for a suspension of the EIS or an extension of the public commenting period but OSM rejected that request. OSM approved the Preferred Alternative of plan B, which also includes Alternative A.

For the past three years local people of southwest chapters of Navajo land united against Peabody Coal Corporation and OSM’s preferred Alternative A to use Coconino aquifer to slurry coal from the defunct Peabody Coal Mine on Black Mesa to Mohave Generating Station. There are no changes to the EIS that OSM had recommended for approval back in 2007, but have decided to go with Alternative B for the purpose of keeping Peabody Coal in the loop and on the Navajo Nation. Communities had asked to reevaluate and open another public hearings and comment period based on the new direction that OSM was going with Alternative B. OSM decision is a slap in the face against the Navajo grandparents who have ancestral rights to land they inherited from their ancestors.

“Our local leaders, including the president of the Navajo Nation, continue to pursue this senseless plan to give Peabody a life of mine permit and continue using pristine water for coal operations without the impacted resident’s decision, which continues to be ignored. When will our leaders stand up and fight for us?” states Calvin Johnson.

Ellen Branch states “This was a clear attempt to get the Life of Mine (LOM) approved before President Bush left office. The stake and shareholders do not live in the affected area. I believe I would have welcomed this decision if all involved (OSM, Peabody, and Joe Shirley Jr.) had the mine in their own backyards. This is a sad day for our friends that live on Black Mesa”

“The EIS Alternative B plan will project another forced relocation and environmental devastation upon our people and Black Mesa, the sacred female mountain that has sustained the people living on that mountain for generations. Life of Mine to me means as long as there is coal left in Black Mesa the coal mining will continue until the mountain is flatten or no longer exists. Is that what we want?” said Anna Frazier, Dine’ CARE.

“I urge everyone to educate themselves about this project and hopefully realize it is not in our best interest with global warming being caused by coal fire power plants and that we continue to be in a never ending drought. I hope our leaders read this and realize that Peabody is here only for our Natural Resources and continue to destroy our Navajo people, whom our leaders say they (people) represent.” said Johnson.


For more information on the Black Mesa Project, go to OSM’s website http://www.wrcc.osmre.gov/WR/BlackMesaFinalEIS.htm

Calvin Johnson
PO Box 5527
Leupp, AZ 86035

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