Indigenous Representatives Protest Plans for Coal-Fired Power Plant on Navajo Lands

Indigenous Environmental Network and members of its Native grassroots delegation attending the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City held a protest/rally on the morning of Friday, April 25th, in front of the offices of Sithe Global Power, LLC to protest the company’s plans to build a coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Reservation.

United Nations, New York City–A delegation of indigenous peoples from around the United States and Canada are demanding immediate action to address climate chaos and crisis.  Twenty-two youth, women, elders and tribal chiefs have traveled to New York City to participate in the United Nations 7th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  One of the main issues the UN forum is addressing is climate issues.  This delegation is profiling the disproportionate impacts their communities face as a result of the expansion of fossil fuel development in their homelands resulting in increased greenhouse gases, contamination and depletion of water and compounding climate change.

In solidarity with delegation member Elouise Brown, President of DDR Committee, the delegation and supporters staged a protest/rally at Sithe Global Power, LLC at 245 Park Avenue on the morning of Friday April 25th at 9:30am.  Sithe Global Power formed and partnered with Desert Rock Energy Company to build a destructive mine-mouth coal-fired power plant ini the Four Corners Area of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.  It would be the third coal-fired plant in an area where the community is already suffering from respiratory and skin ailments and other health problems associated with the existing coal-burning power plants.  Although their is an Environmental Impact Statement pending, it did not incorporate or address what the cumulative impacts of all three power plants and the existing uranium contamination would be.

A press conference took place immediately after the protest/rally and featured frontline Native community members impacted by fossil fuel expansion.  These speakers included:

Elouise Brown (Dine/Navajo)– As a President of Dooda Desert Rock, Elouise has been on the front line fighting a proposed coal-fired power plant in her front yard near Chaco Rio, New Mexico.

Faith Gemmil (Pit River, Wintu, and Neets’aii Gwich’in Athabascan)– As the REDOIL campaigner, runs an Alaskan Native network opposing efforts of the U.S. Congress and the State of Alaska in their attempts to open the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to offshore oil and gas development.

Clayton Thomas-Muller (Cree)– With the Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, working with Cree dine and Metis First Nations from northern Alberta Canada speaking out on health, ecological and environmental damage to their Aboriginal lands from tar sands development.

Loren White, Jr. (Hidatsa/Arikara/Mandan)– As a member of the Environmental Awareness Committee from Fort Berthold, North Dakota, is fighting a proposed oil refinery that is set to produce crude oil from the tar sands in Canada.

David Moses Bridges (Passomaquaddy First Nation)– As a member of the local “We take care of the land” coalition in Maine, fighting the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in their attempts to site a massive liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in their pristine Atlantic homeland.

Enei Begaye (Dine and Tohono O’odham)– As Executive Director of Black Mesa Water Coalition, they are battling coal and water mining and are leading a Native movement for a Just Transition and Green Economy/Green Job Transition.

For more information, contact:
Clayton Thomas-Muller, CITSC (218) 760-6632 (mobile)
Elouise Brown, DDR (505) 947-6159 (mobile)
Jihan Gearon, IEN (218) 760-1370 (mobile)

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is meeting from April 21 to May 2, 2008 at the UN in New York.  This is its 7th session since starting in 2002.  This year, the forum was opened by Bolivian President Evo Morales.  For more information please see http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/index.html

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