Speeding the Transition From Coal in the Southwest
Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel on earth. The life cycle of coal – from mining to combustion to disposal of coal waste – creates significant land, water, and air pollution, which in turn cause environmental degradation and harm human health and welfare. By contributing to the crisis of climate change, coal harms humanity and the planet as a whole. And because many coal mines and plants, like the Navajo Mine in northwestern New Mexico and the Four Corners Power Plant, are sited near communities that lack political clout, they disproportionately harm disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
The monstrous Navajo Mine and Four Corners Power Plant exemplify the destructiveness of coal-based energy production. Sited on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation, the mine – which feeds the power plant – and the power plant are together one of the largest and most polluting coal complexes in the nation. The power plant is the largest emitter of nitrogen oxides in the U.S. and is among the nation’s largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution and mercury.
We’ve fought the complex on a number of issues in the past and won. But late in 2015, the U.S. government green-lighted the Four Corners Power Plant/Navajo Mine complex for an astounding 25 more years. We went back to court because as the coal industry collapses, the feds failed to analyze any kind of alternatives to more coal in the area, such as the abundant solar and wind available there. The court sided with pollution in the initial phase, but we’re appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, representing the San Juan Citizens Alliance, Diné CARE, Amigos Bravos, and the Sierra Club.