2
Feb
2005

Navajo and Hopis Demand Accessibility at Peabody Coal Hearings

Activists and residents in Arizona packed public hearings to demand that Peabody Western Coal Company (PWCC) stop pumping reservation groundwater, the source of their drinking water. They also denounced the public comment process.

Navajo and Hopi nations documented sinkholes and dried-up springs they believe Peabody caused by pumping water from the Navajo Aquifer. Peabody uses the water for a slurry to transport the coal to a generating station in Nevada.

In December, the California Public Utilities commission ordered the station shut down until Peabody can find an alternative source of water--but Peabody continues to pump from the Navajo Aquifer.

The public meetings were part of a series held by the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) on Navajo and Hopi reservations and in Flagstaff to hear comment on Peabody's application to extend its mining operations. Local and national groups and the city of Flagstaff have all criticized the process as inadequate.

According to Nicole Horseherder of the Navajo organization Beautiful Water Speaks, thousands of people could not attend the hearings because of poor translation and the fact that the meetings took place far from their homes.

"There's a lack of understanding between the OSM and grassroots people," Horseherder said. "I was imagining their translations into English: Translating 'Mother Earth' into 'land,' and 'sacred water' into 'just another resource.'"

Sources:
//www.culturalsurvival.org
//www.blackmesatrust.org/december%2014%202004.htm
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