A special session of the Navajo Nation Council focuses on one of the tribe’s most abundant natural resources — coal.
Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on two energy-related bills Wednesday. One would invest money in a company the tribe formed to purchase a coal mine in northwestern New Mexico. The other updates the tribe’s energy policy that includes support for clean coal technology.
Coal and the power plants it feeds make up a significant portion of the tribe’s general fund.
Navajo President Ben Shelly has said that lawmakers’ approval of the energy policy is a prerequisite for him supporting the purchase of the Navajo Mine from BHP Billiton.
The special session takes places in Window Rock and will be streamed live online.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had outlined a final plan for upgrades at three Arizona coal-fired power plants.
The agency on Friday followed through with a proposal to partially reject Arizona’s air quality plan. It came up with one of its own to control nitrogen oxide emissions that impair visibility at 18 national parks and wilderness areas.
Instead of low nitrogen-oxide burners, the EPA says the Cholla, Coronado and Apache generating stations must install selective catalytic reduction technology that will keep 22,700 tons of nitrogen oxide per year out of the air.
The state Department of Environmental Quality was quick to denounce the EPA’s decision, saying Arizona has a right to control pollutants within its borders. The department says visibility improvements from more than $500 million in upgrades will be imperceptible.