Window Rock — The Navajo Nation Council voted to replace its 33-year-old energy policy on Tuesday.
The council voted 13 in favor and six opposed to rescind the 1980 energy policy and approve the Navajo Nation Energy Policy of 2013. The measure must now be considered by Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly.
"We have new energy platforms to consider as we look to the future of Navajo energy," Shelly said in a Tuesday statement applauding the new policy. "We have the opportunity to purchase a coal mine and attain partial ownership of a power plant, but yet, we must keep a strong grasp on renewable energy sources as well."
The updated energy policy will help guide the tribe into the energy future, he said.
But getting the council to vote on the energy policy was not easy.
Prior to voting, Speaker Johnny Naize explained that as the bill containing the energy policy was being read a second time into record at the Oct. 16 special session, the council lost quorum. Then delegate Dwight Witherspoon motioned to suspend the council's floor rules and allow further amendments be added.
Witherspoon made several unsuccessful attempts to amend the energy policy, including one requiring that 20 percent of the tribe's energy production be from renewable sources by 2030.
At Tuesday's session, delegates debated numerous points, including what the order of business should be, before taking up the energy policy.
Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd said the floor rules require that the council consider bills requiring two-thirds vote before returning to items listed under "Old Business" on the session agenda.
Naize explained that the agenda lists old business first and for consideration before two-thirds vote items.
Delegate Leonard Tsosie supported Shepherd's statement and said the energy policy did not require two-thirds vote so it should be after those types of bills are considered.
Naize listened to the comments, then determined that voting on the energy policy would proceed before the other items.
After making his decision, Naize called for a second motion to Witherspoon's to suspend the council's floor rules and return to amending the energy policy.
Tsosie again pointed out that the council's floor rules have items requiring two-thirds vote proceeding before old business items.
"When you adopted the agenda, you adopted it with an old business. The old business can be there forever, it doesn't matter. It's when the council decides to go back to it," Tsosie said.
Naize reiterated that the council already adopted its agenda with the energy policy first and will continue by voting on it.
And Tsosie repeated his objection.
"We're stuck in the mud," said delegate Joshua Lavar Butler.
After further debate and consideration, Naize told the council to vote on the bill.
Delegates who voted for the measure were George Apachito, Bates, Nelson Begaye, Katherine Benally, Charles Damon II, Jonathan Hale, Leonard Pete, Walter Phelps, Shepherd, Simpson, Roscoe Smith, David Tom and Edmund Yazzie.
Those who cast votes in opposition to the policy were Mel Begay, Russell Begaye, Butler, Jonathan Nez, Tsosie and Witherspoon.
Under Navajo law, the bill will be submitted to the president's office for his consideration.
Shelly has 10 calendar days to review the legislation and to either veto or concur with its passage.Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.