Bill aims to shift Navajo Nation revenue from coal to renewables

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Delegate Elmer Begay address the Navajo Nation Council during the winter session on Jan. 28 in Window Rock, Ariz.

FARMINGTON — A new bill proposes the Navajo Nation shift from receiving revenue from coal production to renewable energy sources.

It also seeks to rescind the tribe's energy policy from 2013.

The current policy became law in October 2013 and sets the standard for the exploration, development, sustainable management and use of energy resources on tribal lands, including coal mining and renewable energy development.

If the proposal is enacted, the Navajo Nation Department of Justice would draft a new energy policy.

"The time has come for the Navajo Nation to begin the movement from coal source revenues to more sustainable and renewable energy sources," the bill states.

The bill also calls for creating a task force to provide recommendations for replacing revenues for the tribe considering the closure of the Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine in Arizona.

The coal-fired power plant near Page, Arizona is scheduled to cease operations in December.

Task force members would also provide recommendations for assisting displaced coal mine and power plant workers such as job training, placement services and priority hiring for reclamation and decommissioning work at the coal mine and power plant.

The group would also examine the mining and power plant sites for reclamation and re-purposing suggestions.

Delegate Elmer Begay, who represents the Arizona chapters of Dilkon, Greasewood Springs, Indian Wells, Teesto and White Cone, is sponsoring the bill.

He informed delegates about the bill during the March 21 debate about separate legislation that proposed the tribe support the Navajo Transitional Energy Company's sole move to acquire the Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine.

Begay's bill is assigned to the Resources and Development Committee, the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee and the Navajo Nation Council, where final authority rests.

It was introduced on March 21 and will be eligible for considering starting Wednesday.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at