Navajo Nation Council refers bill to revise energy outlook to committee

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Council has sent the Resources and Development Committee a bill that calls for transitioning the tribe's energy future away from coal.

Delegate Elmer Begay in March introduced legislation that proposes the tribe reduce dependence on coal for generating revenue and replace it with renewable energy sources.

After completing the legislative process, including a June 14 work session by the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee, delegates discussed the bill during the summer session last week in Window Rock, Arizona.

Talks paused when the bill was tabled on July 16 to allow time for Delegate Pernell Halona to gather signatures on a petition to reintroduce an amendment that was defeated by the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee on July 11.

Halona was successful with the petition, and his amendment became the center of debate on July 17.

Begay's bill calls for rescinding the tribe's energy policy from 2013. It also calls upon the Navajo Nation Department of Justice to draft a new policy that conforms with the tribe's declaration to move beyond coal and proceed with renewable energy sources.

The amendment proposed by Halona sought to keep the 2013 energy policy in place, and proposed the creation of an "energy policy task force" whose membership would consist of up to 18 members from various tribal departments, offices, enterprises and non-government entities.

Together, the group would develop a new energy policy to present to the tribal council.

Delegate Elmer Begay, center, talks on July 16 about his bill to shift the tribe's energy production from coal to renewable sources during the Navajo Nation Council summer session in Window Rock, Arizona.

The council did not vote on Halona's amendment. Rather, they took up a motion by Delegate Herman Daniels to refer the bill to the Resources and Development Committee for further evaluation.

Daniels, who is a member of the Resources and Development Committee, said committee members will work closely with the tribe's Division of Natural Resources regarding the bill.

An April 10 committee report from the Resources and Development Committee states the bill was removed from its agenda and a directive was made to Begay to schedule a work session for delegates about the measure.

The council has until the fall session in October to reconsider the bill after its review by the Resources and Development Committee, according to Daniels' motion.

How council voted to refer the bill

The official vote tally from the summer session showed 12 delegates voting in favor of the motion, 7 against and four not voting.

• Voting yes:

Kee Allen Begay Jr.

Paul Begay

Nathaniel Brown

Herman Daniels

Raymond Smith Jr.

Wilson Stewart Jr.

Otto Tso

Charlaine Tso

Eugene Tso

Thomas Walker Jr.

Edison Wauneka

Jimmy Yellowhair

• Voting no:

Elmer Begay

Eugenia Charles-Newton

Mark Freeland

Pernell Halona

Jamie Henio

Vince James

Daniel Tso

• Not voting:

Seth Damon

Amber Kanazbah Crotty

Rick Nez

Edmund Yazzie

Source: Navajo Nation Office of the Speaker

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

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