BIA clears up confusion over Desert Rock comment site 5-29-07

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs wants the public to know its comments on an environmental impact statement for a controversial power plant are not being screened.

Although the Web site to post comment looks similar to one run by the developers, the BIA said its site is run by a third party under contract with the BIA.

The confusion could stem from a similar address - the BIA's, hosted by URS Corp., a contractor working on the impact statement, versus Sithe Global Power's

The Navajo Nation's Dine Power Authority and Houston-based Sithe Global Power have partnered to build the $3 billion Desert Rock Power Plant 25 miles southwest of Farmington.

The BIA released a draft environmental impact statement this month in support of the project, and opened it up to a 60-day comment period. Public hearings also are planned.

Harilene Yazzie, the Navajo Environmental Protection Agency coordinator for the BIA's Navajo regional office, said the comments won't be reviewed or screened by Sithe Global, DPA or the Navajo Nation.

“All that information is going to be on URS and their database,” she said.

The BIA frequently partners with other companies to post information online because the agency is under a judge's order not to use the Internet, Yazzie said.