Farmington — Shiprock Chapter is submitting a resolution to federal officials that opposes the waiver of liabilities that the Navajo Nation Council granted BHP Billiton for Navajo Mine.
The resolution, which chapter members approved Sunday, was attached to a letter chapter president Duane "Chili" Yazzie wrote Tuesday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn.
In Yazzie's letter, he noted that the chapter is troubled by the blanket waiver included in the mine purchase contract.
"The question remains unresolved on the extent of potential negative impact that the Navajo Nation, the people and our environment will have to contend with, when issues arise that clearly should be the responsibility of the BHP Company," he wrote.
Since the Interior Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are stewards of tribal lands, the chapter asks Jewell and Washburn to exercise their legal responsibilities to safeguard the welfare of the Navajo people "to fully consider the impact of this all-inclusive waiver of liability language before approving the BHP Mines purchase by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company."
Copies of the letter were also sent to Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.; Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-Santa Fe; Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly; Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim; Navajo Nation Council Speaker Johnny Naize; council delegates; BHP Billiton's New Mexico Coal Division Asset President Pat Risner; and chapter officials.
Dilkon Chapter in Arizona has also voiced opposition to the waiver, which the council approved and Shelly signed into law last month.
Dilkon Chapter members voted on Nov. 17 to request the council to rescind the waiver.
"Information on the sale of Navajo Mine and waivers of liabilities were not disclosed to the Navajo public to voice their concerns although all Navajo members have the lawful right to be informed to make informed decisions," the Dilkon resolution states.
Dilkon called the rush to approve actions regarding the mine purchase as disrespectful "to the Navajo public although they are the shareholders of any and all transaction" that are related to the land.
The resolution also calls for releasing all background information for Navajo Mine and a due diligence report the council authorized.
"The Dilkon Chapter membership requests that (the) information requested above be made available for all 110 chapters (through) written documentation and (through) social media, website, etc.," the resolution states.
The same day Dilkon Chapter passed its resolution, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter passed a resolution to oppose the purchase of Navajo Mine.
In a statement, BHP Billiton said the company is aware of Shiprock's resolution, and although they are disappointed by the action, they noted that the legislation containing the waiver was approved by the council and signed into law.
"As such, the Shiprock Chapter is taking a position on legislation that has been signed into law and we view this and any other similar chapter resolutions as a Navajo Nation internal issue," according to the statement.
The coal company noted that chapters adjacent to the mine -- Nenahnezad, San Juan and Upper Fruitland -- have passed resolutions supporting the mine purchase.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.