FARMINGTON — Members of the environmental group Diné CARE have organized an event to inform the public about details of the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine Energy Project draft environmental impact statement.
The U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement prepared the draft statement to evaluate the potential environmental impacts from the continued operation of the power plant and the coal mine.
Diné CARE planned the event on Saturday in Shiprock to educate the public about the components of the draft statement and the importance of submitting comments.
Colleen Cooley, a Diné CARE member, said it is important for Navajos to read and understand the draft statement because the power plant and mining operation impact the tribe's environment, economy and health.
"This is mainly for the people and for them to be aware of it," Cooley said in a Thursday telephone interview.
It also provides the opportunity for people to ask questions and to learn more about the draft statement because that information may not be presented at the upcoming public meetings that the office will host, she said.
"I think this rally gives us the chance to make the information more comprehensive and understandable," Cooley said.
The group will also collect video and audio recordings from individuals who want to comment on the draft statement and submit those to the office.
Diné CARE also sent a request to the office asking it to extend the public review and comment period for 60 days and to have the entire draft statement translated into the Navajo language.
The draft statement was released for public review on March 28 and the office will accept written comments until May 27.
It analyzes the impacts of implementing four possible options for the power plant and the coal mine.
Arizona Public Service is proposing to continue operating the power plant until 2041 and has entered into a lease amendment with the Navajo Nation.
Transmission lines connected to the power plant and owned by APS and Public Service Company of New Mexico require rights-of-way renewals to continue operation.
The Navajo Transitional Energy Company is proposing to continue operation of the mine to supply fuel for the power plant and proposing to develop a new area within the existing mine lease to supply coal for up to 25 years, starting in 2016.
A copy of the draft statement is available online and a paper copy can be reviewed at the Farmington Public Library, Shiprock Branch Library, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Shiprock Office, and the Nenahnezad, Shiprock, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad and Upper Fruitland chapter houses.
The federal office will conduct a series of public meetings to address and collect comments about the draft statement beginning April 30 in Hotevilla, Ariz.
Meetings will also take place locally in Burnham, Farmington, Nenahnezad and Shiprock.IF YOU GO