Durango Telegraph - The search for Desert Rock - Opponents allege deficient public process
The search for Desert Rock - Opponents allege deficient public process

The road to Desert Rock has been a bumpy one, especially if you ask activists on the Navajo Nation. As the massive power plant works its way toward approval, opponents are alleging that the Environmental Protection Agency has done a poor job of including the public in the process.

When she announced the permit for the Desert Rock Plant, Deborah Jordan, the EPA’s air programs director for the Pacific Southwest region, commented, “We encourage Navajo Nation residents and other interested citizens to learn about the proposal and participate in the comment process.”

However, many opponents of the plant feel neither encouraged nor welcome. Diné CARE (Citizens Against Ruining our Environment) argues that the EPA’s public scoping process has been biased against the residents that will be impacted most by the new plant – those living in Burnham and Sanostee, on the reservation.

A series of three informational hearings on the plant kicked off July 18. However, Lori Goodman, an organizer with Diné CARE, argued that the Navajo Nation has been kept in the dark.

“Two weeks before the first meeting, the EPA hadn’t notified anyone,” she said. “Then the hearings were all

set for obscure locations. We had to raise Cain, and they finally changed it.”

Goodman then added, “I guess no one should be surprised. This process has been this way all along.”

This week, the EPA opens a 90-day window for members of the public to comment on the Desert Rock Project. Three public hearings are tentatively being scheduled, with one planned for Durango. Exact dates and times will be published in coming weeks. For more information on the permit, log onto: www.epa.gov/region09/air/permit/desertrock.

– Will Sands

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