Committee delays action for bill to support NTEC move for plant, mine
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Lawmakers on the Navajo Nation have delayed consideration of a bill that calls for the tribe to support an independent move by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company to acquire the Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine.
Delegates Herman Daniels and Nathaniel Brown attempted to have the bill go before the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee during a regular meeting today.
The bill, sponsored by Delegate Rick Nez, was introduced on March 7 and became eligible for consideration this week by the Resources and Development Committee and the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee, where final authority rests.
On Wednesday, the Resources and Development Committee gave the bill a "do pass" recommendation.
At today's Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee meeting, several delegates questioned the quick pace to have the committee consider the bill since it centers on a complex transaction.
Delegates also stated there are several chapters requesting further information about the possible acquisition.
NTEC had been negotiating with Salt River Project, the majority owner of NGS, to acquire the coal-fired power plant in northern Arizona, but talks hit an impasse over long-term liabilities, including clean-up for the plant.
The bill states the negotiation stalled due to a demand by the plant's owners for the tribe to provide financial agreements pursuant to the purchase in addition to assuming and guaranteeing all liabilities associated with the plant.
This includes liabilities associated with the current owners, the bill states.
Following the breakdown in talks, the SRP announced it will continue to decommission the plant by December.
Dozens of mine and plant employees watched today's committee meeting unfold inside the council chamber in Window Rock, Arizona.
Delegates were also concerned about adding the bill to an agenda that already has three pages of legislation, including 10 bills that deal with nominees to lead various tribal divisions and offices.
Daniels, in response to lawmakers' concerns, decided to withdraw the motion to add the legislation.
Nez, the bill's sponsor, told committee members that he supported the delay and a suggestion to have a special meeting that focuses on the measure.
Speaker Seth Damon, who also serves as committee chairman, said the committee will have that special meeting on March 21.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.