Last updated 5:43PM ET
December 16, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Durango City Council Weighs In Against Desert Rock
(2007-07-06)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Four of five Durango City Councilors are on record, opposing the proposed Desert Rock Power plant in Northwest New Mexico.
Their vote this week comes in anticipation of a series of public hearings later this month on the coal fired power plant.
KSUT's Victor Locke has more.

VICTOR: Desert Rock is a 3-billion dollar, 1.5-megawatt coal burning plant which will produce energy mostly for Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Sithe Global and the Navajo Nation's Dine Power Authority propose to build the plant on tribal land, southwest of Farmington.
The Durango based San Juan Citizens Alliance asked Durango councilors to adopt a resolution in opposition to the plant.
The alliance and other groups, take issue with Sithe Global's claims Desert Rock will be the cleanest coal plant in the nation.
They say it will spew even more chemicals, including mercury, into Four Corners air which is already fouled by two other Northwest New Mexico coal burning plants.
Nathan Plagens, a Vice President with Desert Rock Energy, told councilors any resolution would be inappropriate.
PLAGENS: THE DESERT ROCK PROJECT WILL HAVE NO PHYSICAL IMPACT ON THE CITY OF DURANGO NOR HAVE ANY APPLICABILITY TO COMPREHENSIVE PLANS AND GOALS FOR THE CITY. AND FURTHER, THIS SHORT ANALYSIS DESCRIBES THE IMPLICATIONS AND IMPACT ON THE CITY OF DURANGO, WHICH IS NONE. BASED ON THAT ANALYSIS ALONE, IT IS PROPOSED THAT NO RESOLUTION WHETHER IT BE SUPPORTING OR OPPOSING IS INAPPROPRIATE AS THERE ARE NO IMPACTS ON DURANGO.
Erickson Benally, a board member of the Navajo Tribe's Dine Power Authority also urged defeat of the resolution calling Desert Rock a major economic development project for the tribe.
BENALLY: DINE POWER AUTHORITY SET OUT FOUR YEARS AGO TO DEVELOP THE DESERT ROCK PROJECT TO BRING REVENUES, EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES AND OWNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES TO THE NAVAJO NATION AND ITS PEOPLE. THE DESERT ROCK PROJECT WHEN IT'S CONSTRUCTED WITH BRING ABOUT 50-MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR TO THE NAVAJO NATION IN TAXES AND ROYALTIES.
City councilor Leigh Meigs says she recognizes the tribe's sovereignty, but says it is appropriate for Durango to weigh in on the plant, which she says raises good neighbor issues.
MEIGS: ResoWE'RE INVOLVED WITH AN AIRSHED. I'VE SEEN STUDIES THAT SAY WE'RE GETTING DUST FROM CHINA THAT'S AFFECTING OUR AIRSHED. SO THE CUMULATIVE IMPACT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO CONSIDER AND BE CONCERNED WITH.
Councilor Michael Rendon says he's concerned about environmental racism.
RENDON: I THINK THAT IF THIS AME PLANT WAS PROPOSED IN THE VALLEY HERE IT WOULDN'T EVEN BE ON THE AGENDA TONIGHT, PEOPLE LIVE THERE. I SEE IT AS SIMILAR TO WANTING TO PUT NUCLEAR WASTE IN SOMEBODY'S BACK YARD. I DON'T THINK IT'S ANY COINCIDENCE THAT THE LARGEST COAL POWERED PRODUCING PLANT EVER IS GOING TO GO WHERE BROWN PEOPLE LIVE.
Saying we all need to do our part to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, Councilor and Mayor Doug Lyon says he doesn't think the city should have a say on Desert Rock.
LYON: NAVAJO NATION IS A SOVEREIGN NATION, BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS IS A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY, AND I DON'T WANT TO TELL THEM WHAT TO DO. I JUST WANT TO DO WHAT I'M DOING, SO I'LL BE ABSTAINING ON THIS VOTE.
The resolution, adopted by a 4-0 vote, and others like it are expected to be presented at a series of hearings on Desert Rock's Environmental Impact statement.
Those hearings begin July 18th , from 11-2 in Cortez and later that same day with a 4-7 pm hearing at Durango's Iron Horse Inn.
Hearings are also scheduled throughout New Mexico.
Sithe Global is hoping to start construction on the plant, if approvals are granted, sometime next year.
From KSUT, Four Corner's Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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