Navajo debate lease renewal for coal power plant

Posted: Apr 16, 2013

Written by

Felicia Fonseca, AP & Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic/GW
Coal power plant

Navajo legislators in Arizona are considering an extension of their lease on a coal-fired power plant, sparking debate in the community.

The new 25-year lease would expire in 2044 and increase payments to the Navajo Nation from $3 million to more than $40 million annually.

But some worry that the environmental costs of the plant aren't worth the trouble. One of the plant's owners is looking to sell his share. And implementing U.S. EPA's pollution controls could cost upward of $1 billion.

The plant's operator, the Salt River Project, said it is committed to keeping the plant open (Felicia Fonseca, AP/Denver Post, April 11).

A recent study out of Arizona State University found that the project could contribute a total of $13 billion to the Navajo Nation through 2044.

"This study shows that the plant and the mine not only support existing jobs at the plant and mine, but support other jobs in the area," Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said in a statement.

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