To the editor:
I been reading in the papers how the Navajo Nation had to tap into the government reserves to make up for the shortfall in the 2020 budget because of the closures of Kayenta Mine and Navajo Generating Station, and the revenue they used to generate.
I also been reading about the proposed legislation (0319-19) against the Navajo Transitional Energy Company’s general indemnity agreement, which is needed to secure reclamation bonds. Combined, Peabody, SRP and NTEC had contributed approximately $100 million to the Nation’s budget.
The Legislative and Executive branches are failing the Navajo people. They shut down Kayenta Mine and NGS without a plan to employ our people and now they want to do the same with NTEC. Now they are digging into our reserves to make up revenue for closing these coal operations!
Our leaders are estimating a $30 to $50 million decline in coal revenues for 2020. Now I’m reading that President (Jonathan) Nez said the Council might decrease the amount available for economic development projects and allocate more to the General Fund. He stated it’s a short-term fix and “maybe” the Nation will get additional revenue from tourism and renewable energy projects. Maybe?? Really? You close NGS and Kayenta Mine, which was generating $30 to $50 million annually with maybe! I think those maybes should have been in place first before they decided to close them down.
So, this brings up the question, why are certain council delegates working so hard against advancement on the Navajo Nation?
As I talk to people and listen to the radio, it appears there is a misunderstanding that NTEC gets its money from the General Fund. NTEC does not draw from the General Fund, the Sihasin Fund or Permanent Trust Fund. NTEC is purchasing the three mines in Montana and Wyoming from its own reserves, which it has generated from successfully operating the Navajo Mine near Shiprock.
Rather than these certain delegates or the “environmental” groups working against the Navajo people, we should be supporting our tribal coal company. NTEC attempted to purchase Kayenta Mine and NGS, but the Council failed them and we heard crickets from the president’s office. NTEC was going to run those operations for 10 years, which would have given the Nation ample time to figure out the “maybes.”
I heard from friends in Tuba City that people are already chopping down trees on Black Mesa and near Grand Canyon to stay warm this winter. I suspected this would happen once there was no longer public coal at Kayenta Mine. For the environmentalists who supported the closure of Kayenta Mine, how is deforestation any better?
Please Navajo people, don’t fail NTEC like the executive and legislative branches did. Inform your delegates to vote against Legislation 0319-19. Don’t let the Council fail NTEC like they did the Kayenta and Black Mesa areas.