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Navajo chapter comes out against proposed power plant 4-24-07

SANOSTEE, N.M. (AP) - A Navajo community in northwestern New Mexico has issued a resolution in opposition to a proposed $3 billion coal-fired power plant, but a tribal lawmaker says the community's concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

Jerry Bodie, a delegate who represents the Sanostee Chapter, said a few dozen of the chapter's 1,500 voters showed up at meeting this month and passed the resolution against the Desert Rock Energy Project.

Bodie said he took the chapter's message to the Tribal Council last week, and each delegate received a copy.

“They didn't listen to it and they think the power plant is good for all the people,” Bodie said.

Critics claim the plant will add pollution to a region that already has two existing coal-fired plants, but Desert Rock supporters argue that the opposition represents a minority and that the Navajo Nation as a whole supports the project.

Houston-based Sithe Global and the tribe's Dine Power Authority have partnered on the project. It's expected to bring in about $55 million each year for the Navajo Nation and provide about 400 permanent jobs.

The Sanostee resolution requests a comprehensive health study of residents living within a 60-mile radius of coal-fired power plants. Sanostee is about 12 miles west of the proposed site, Bodie said.

The resolution also urges the Navajo Nation to consider alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, in place of the plant.

A draft environmental impact statement on the proposed plant is expected in several weeks, and the resolution asks that public hearings on the document be held in Sanostee.
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