July 31st marked the end of a battle for the air permit needed to progress plans to build a 1500 megawatt coal burning power plant in the middle of Navajo Nation territory. The EPA has signed off on this permit following a 4 year process that has saw both environmentalists and supporters pleading their cases. The permit will allow construction of this massive coal plant that claims to utilize state-of-the-art technology to reduce emissions and control pollution.
The plant, dubbed Desert Rock Energy Project, will provide $50 million in revenues and needed jobs for the Navajo tribe. Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr., stated that this benefit to the tribe outweighs any environmental concerns that have been presented. 17% of the new power required by the Arizona, New Mexico and Southern Nevada region up to 2015 is expected to come from this project.
Though this outcome may be beneficial to the financial situation of the Navajo, it is a great disservice to the environment and recent clean energy projects. By continuing the construction of this plant, the EPA is reversing the goal of the United States running on clean, renewable energy. This plant will further destroy an environment that is already being taxed by heavy coal burning power plants. The Desert Rock Energy Project is being sold as a way to reduce our independence on foreign oil, but it is clearly at the expense of the environment. With the Navajo being concerned about public health, as displayed in the recent outlaw of public smoking, this decision comes as a surprise. Apparently, it is against the law for one to pollute their own lungs, but not the lungs of our Earth, as long as cash is involved.
With so much emphasise on protecting our environment by the EPA, it is shocking that such an outdated source of power production would be approved. We cannot continue to build a renewable energy grid, with decisions like these negating entire advances. Although, power needs must be met in a timely manner, we cannot continue to destroy the environment and atmosphere by polluting our rivers, land and air. Cleaner alternatives with high efficiency have already been demonstrated. Hopefully the Navajo, who have had such a concern for the Earth in the past, will see the errors in this dated technology and choose to progress with a cleaner, more environmentally friendly technology such as solar and wind power.