Sneak Attack by the Feds, HTC, NTC, and Peabody Energy strip mining
In response to Peabody Energy's recent tactics and quest to continue strip mining at Black Mesa.

Yes, it has been a sneak attack further reinforced through general articles that have followed. Dirty energy will continue to be used but on an even grander scale to meet the needs of the general public in their thirst for more electricity at the lowest prices possible. But is the price really worth it?

Doublespeak rules the day. And they are expert at this. A carefully orchestrated plan to leak information out to the general public in the guise of journalistic integrity has ensued regarding Peabody Energy Corporation. There was a time not long ago that a light seemed to be at the end of the tunnel – that the wishes of the Diné People and traditional Hopi would be granted – that Grandmother Roberta Blackgoat’s dream might be partially answered – that Peabody Energy’s rape of Black Mesa would cease December 31, 2005. But as always, it’s all been a ruse. Peabody’s strong lobby as well as the present administration’s quest to acquire the energy coveted by whatever means possible might be the reason. This has been evident with several attempts to pass bills through Congress to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Perhaps this was a smokescreen so that attention would be diverted. This tactic has been used in the past. Remember PL 93-531?

It is through these tactics that the powers that be taste victory. It’s been a very smooth campaign with the end results known to those who have been meeting behind closed doors – the Feds (the Department of Interior), the energy conglomerate (Peabody), and their puppets, the Hopi Tribal Council, and the Navajo Tribal Council – something they are extremely adept at doing. Past actions have demonstrated this over and over again. No concern is given to the needs of the Dine’ People and their traditional Hopi neighbors. No consideration has arisen regarding how this affects the land and its People through they have made those fighting for survival at Black Mesa feel that their voices are heard in the guise of testimonies taken earlier in July 2004.

Let’s look at what has been reported fairly recently. A steady stream of articles has appeared in different newspapers, such as the Navajo Times, the Gallup Independent and a few others, sometimes making it appear that the needs and desires of the People at Black Mesa could possibly be taken into serious consideration. Chronologically presented a few of them are:

There has also been been the publication of "Ground-Water, Surface-Water, and Water-Chemistry Data, Black Mesa Area, Northeastern Arizona — 2002-03, which is not available on line but can be acquired from the USGS. Please see USGS Water Sources of Arizona. All and more have been part of this carefully orchestrated plan.

This last one is the kicker. This is what all has been leading up to – keep Peabody Energy Corporation in business at Black Mesa, Arizona. Never has there been a chance that this mine would close. All the lies that have been perpetuated in the past continue. The Feds are feeling confident. Peabody is gloating. They mentioned their use of the "high-quality" water from the N-Aquifer. They also act like they have concerns about respecting the "cultural concerns" of the Hopi and Navajo, but where was this concern when they continued to pump billions of gallons of water annually. Where was this concern when evidence began to appear that the N-Aquifer was collapsing? Peabody always maintained that their usage of the N-Aquifer caused no harm. Yet, the holes appeared, deep holes, and water sources at Black Mesa began to dry up. According to the article Peabody says "it has agreements with the two tribes" that "allow it to use the high-quality, deep Navajo 'N' Aquifer water as long as it is mining the coal." Legalese doublespeak. The DOI (Department of Interior) talks of the "'C' Aquifer feasibility study and environmental impact statement" but this has been mentioned for a while now, yet nothing seems to have been done. Empty promises again.

The kick to the stomach is Peabody's present attempt to increase its water consumption from "4,400 acre-feet to 6,000 acre-feet." Yes, they want even more water. They claim that the slurry does not affect the surface wells because they say their wells go down about "3,700 feet and are cased to at least 2,000 feet." The depth of the wells in question reach about 300 feet. As always they deny culpability. What happened to these "cultural concerns" they expressed? A lot of figures have been thrown around, and hints that they would do things to ensure a better environment, yet exorbitant dollar amounts are included with these "promises," giving the idea that nothing will really be done. The costs would have to be passed on to consumers, yet that would be a contradiction since Peabody says it wants to continue to provide low-cost energy. Peabody and the Feds seem to be winning again, and at the expense of the Diné People and traditional Hopi who live at Black Mesa. Only time will tell.

Another minor diversion has been this "comment period" through the OSM (Office of Surface Mining). Considering the recent developments as a result of these "meetings,"comments may only be a moot point that will carry no weight. However, it doesn't hurt to try. Please visit Black Mesa Trust. This relates to a small portion of what the Diné People want as was expressed in the recent Gathering on the land in May 2004. They want the mining stopped. But who is listening? There was a time when many supporters were. They would be up in arms with the resisters about these recent developments. But now what will happen as a result in the future is unknown. Voices are quiet.

Yes, there are jobs at stake, the over 600 who work at the Black Mesa mine. But what is more important? Protection of their pristine water source, the N-Aquifer, or dollars? John Redhouse's essay, Geopolitics of the Navajo-Hopi 'Land Dispute', comes to mind here. What is Peabody's major concern is this "precious" low-sulfur coal. The water is not mentioned in that regard. They want to increase the quantity of the coal that is slurried to the Mohave Generating Station to the tune of "1 million tons." Because of the money Peabody sees to be made it is willing to enter into an extention of "the coal supply agreement with Edison" that is worth "2 billion in direct economic benefits to the tribes." Peabody is looking to increase their revenues, and their lease for another two decades. Nothing more, nothing less at present. And it looks like they will get what they want as always.

So the dirty energy will continue to pollute our skies and the land at Black Mesa. Sulfur dioxide emissions, mercury emissions and nitrogen oxide emissions from the Mohave Generating Station will continue to pollute the air. There will be no closure. The powers that be have fooled everyone yet again. Peabody has done this since the beginning as noted in Fire on the Plateau: Conflict and Endurance in the American Southwest by Charles Wilkinson. No regard has been given ever to the sacred nature of the land and the water or the Diné People and traditional Hopi who call Black Mesa home. The future looks bleak. All are threatened on the land as well as everywhere else. Should there be concern? What do you think?


the wolf is my messenger

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copyright © August 1, 2004, by louve14
revised 15 August 2004
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