Bush Gives Parting Gift to Peabody Coal; Navajo & Hopi Citizens Vow to Stop the Process

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Flagstaff, AZ – Two days before Christmas, officials from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) have granted a permit to Peabody Coal Company to expand their mining operations on Navajo and Hopi lands, despite opposition from local communities and problems with the permitting process including lack of adequate time for public comment on a significant revision to the permit, insufficient environmental review, and instability in the Hopi government preventing their legitimate participation in the process. OSM’s “Record of Decision” (ROD) is the final stage of the permitting process for the proposed “Black Mesa Project,” which would grant Peabody Coal Company a life-of-mine permit for the “Black Mesa Complex” in northern Arizona.
Black Mesa Water Coalition, a Navajo and Hopi citizen’s organization working on indigenous sovereignty and environmental protection, has vowed to stop Peabody from causing further harm to Black Mesa. “We are looking into our options for how to stop this process from moving forward, including legal action. The permitting process was flawed and clearly rushed through before President Bush leaves office,” said Enei Begaye, Co-Director of Black Mesa Water Coalition.

Wahleah Johns, Co-Director of Black Mesa Water Coalition said, “This decision will uproot the sacred connection that we have to land, water, and all living things on Black Mesa. Black Mesa is a female mountain, sacred to the Navajo people, and has been brutally scarred from over 30 years of coal mining activity and the resulting loss of 60 percent of our only source of drinking water. Our ancestors fought hard to retain our homelands, but even now in 2008 we are up against the same battle to protect our homelands. The abuse to mother earth needs to stop.”

This announcement is consistent with the Bush Administration’s history of releasing controversial decisions on Friday evenings and before holidays. Samantha Honani, a Hopi Tewa tribal member, said, “This is the worst kind of Christmas present. The Hopi Tewa people will not be in holiday bliss this Christmas but in deep thought and contemplation of where we are as a tribe and people without a Tribal Leader given this devastating Record of Decision.”

http://www.coastalpost.com/09/01/11.html

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