Commentary: Sincere dialogue needed between energy industry and environmentalists

Chili Yazzie
Special to the Daily Times

The energy development interest is mired in a mindset that says there is nothing wrong with how they do business. The first impulse is to oppose any suggestions that energy development could be done in a different way. They bristle at the talk of addressing the climate crisis and of renewable energy. 

The auto reaction to the Biden administration’s strategy on the climate issue has been to hit the trenches with contingency plans to hunker down for an all-out campaign to defend their domain. 

The business of energy development is fused with the ideology of capitalism which is built on the law of supply and demand. The driving force is the economics, the profit margin. Because of the bottom line at the bank and the rat race to maintain it, it is a battle with many fronts with an all-encompassing effort to stay ahead of the game.

There is little regard for the human and environmental devastation strewn along the way. That is the cost of doing business, just an expense.  

It must be a vicious cycle with potential threats to the supply line, the perceived damage that could be done to the infrastructure of society and government, the payroll of families and the health of the corporate bottom line. The metering gauge in the board room must be erratic, vacillating between emboldened confidence and frenetic anxiety over the policy that looms to save the environment. 

Duane “Chili” Yazzie, president of the Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation, sits in his ceremonial hogan outside of Shiprock.

This appears to be the dynamics of the energy development world. We understand. Antithetically, the energy development hierarchy do not seem to have any reason to be open to understand the argument of the environmentalists to preserve the earth. 

The environmentalists’ arguments are pragmatic science. I supposition that with sincere objectivity, the corporation and the environmentalist could find common ground and agree on some basic premises based on facts. 

If there were such an opportunity.

On a separate paradigm, I do not believe the corporate big wheels readily comprehend why Indigenous peoples claim the earth as our mother, that the earth has a life essence, a spirit. 

Indigenous understands the corporate mind. There is no doubt in our Indigenous mind we can show you the fallacy of your corporate ways and why you need to rethink your priorities. This is a challenge. Our planet, our home is in trouble, it is imperative that we have a conversation. 

We ask respectfully that we come to the table as equal humanity, the future of our collective world, your business, the lives of our grandchildren and coming generations depends on us to do so. 

Chili Yazzie of Shiprock is the former Shiprock Chapter president. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this commentary stated that Mr. Yazzie is the current chapter president. is is a past president.