Last updated 6:34PM ET
December 17, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Desert Rock, on the Rocks?
(2007-03-21)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Developers of the proposed Desert Rock Power Plant in San Juan County New Mexico have suffered a major setback.
But they aren't stopping in their bid to build the huge plant.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: The New Mexico Legislature ended it's 2007 session this past weekend.
They did so without reviving a bill to grant 85-million dollars in tax breaks to Sithe Global.
Sithe is seeking financing assistance and environmental approvals to build the nearly 3-billion dollar Desert Rock Plant on the Navajo Reservation, southwest of Farmington, New Mexico.
MAISANO: IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT THE DESERT ROCK TAX PLAN WAS NOT A PART OF THE STATE'S FINAL ACTION THIS YEAR.
Frank Maisano is spokesman for Sithe Global.
MAISANO: IT'S REALLY A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, TO IMPROVE ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP, NOT ONLY ON THE NAVAJO NATION, BUT IN THE FOUR CORNERS REGION GENERALLY.
Sithe claims it's designed the 15-hundred megawatt coal fired plant as the cleanest coal fired plant ever.
And touts it as an economic boon for the Navajo Nation.
The tribe will receive 1-billion dollars in payments from Sithe over 20-years and promises of hundreds of jobs for tribal members in both the plant and a nearby coal mine.
Maisano says the tax breaks they sought from the state would keep the project financially competitive.
MAISANO: I'M NOT IN A POSITION TO SAY THAT THIS IS A MAKE OR BREAK. IT IS CERTAINLY SOMETHING THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT.
Officials with two groups fighting Desert Rock and what they say is the pollution it will contribute to the Four Corners say they are pleased, but not surprised.
Mike Eisenfeld is the Farmingston Director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.
EISENFELD: IT WAS PORTRAYED BY SITHE GLOBAL AND NAVAJO NATION THAT THE DESERT ROCK TAX LEGISLATION WAS SIMPLY A TAX ISSUE, SEPARATE FROM ANY ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, AND I THINK THE NEW MEXICO LEGISLATORS BELIEVE IT HAS A LOT MORE TO DO WITH CLIMATE CHANGE AND MERCURY AND SOME OF THE OTHER ISSUES CONFRONTING THE FOUR CORNERS REGION.
Lori Goodman is with Dine' Care, a Navajo Citizens Environmental Group also fighting Desert Rock.
GOODMAN: WE HOPE THAT THIS IS THE END OF IT FOR THEM.
Goodman acknowledges the company isn't ready to give up on Desert Rock, nor are those opposed ready to surrender.
GOODMAN: I WOULD SAY IT'S JUST ANOTHER BATTLE IN THE BIGGER WAR THAT'S HAPPENING. WITH ALL THE PUBLICITY THAT HAPPENED OVER THE TAX BREAKS AND ALSO THE BLOCKADE HAPPENING THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE WHO ARE AWARE OF WHAT'S GOING ON, AND THEY'RE READY TO GET INVOLVED AT ANY WHICH LEVEL.
Sithe Global, meanwhile, isn't wasting any time.
This week, the company began meetings with school and government officials in Farmington, San Juan County and on the Navajo Reservation, about using Industrial Revenue Bonds to help pay for the plant.
Use of those bonds would reduce Sithe Global's local tax obligations.
Maisano says Sithe expects it's bid for local tax breaks to face more opposition from environmentalists and others.
MAISANO: THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHAT WE'RE DOING OUT THERE, BECAUSE ANY COAL PLANT FOR THEM IS BAD, YOU KNOW. AND THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT COMPLETELY DISREGARDS THE IMPACT OF THIS PROJECT ON THE NAVAJO NATION.
Maisano also admits given the legislature's failure to act and continued opposition, the scheduled start of construction on the Desert Rock Power Plant, which will take four years to complete, will now be delayed from late 2007, until sometime in 2008, if then.
From KSUT, Four Corner's Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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