Benally bill would oppose key parts of Kyl-McCain water bill

By Marley Shebala
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, April 12, 2012

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P roposed legislation to oppose key provisions of U.S. Senate Bill 2109, including the waiver of Navajo Nation water rights claims and approval of a lease for Navajo Generating Station, is up for five days of public comment on the Navajo Nation Council's website.

Delegate Katherine Benally (Chilchinbeto/Dennehotso/Kayenta) is sponsoring the legislation to oppose the waivers and lease extensions in the bill, both of which are necessary in order for Navajos to reap the benefits promised in S. 2109. (Benally's legislation is number 0149-12. It was posted April 10 on


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On Tuesday, Benally explained that she was sponsoring the bill because she knows that the Navajo people "would never" waive their water rights to the "main stem of the Colorado River."

The waivers in S. 2109 concern water rights, and damage to water resources, on Navajo-owned land inside and outside of Arizona, on and off the reservation.

And she said the extension of leases for Navajo Generating Station has no place in the water settlement.

"It's a totally different issue," Benally said.

Referring to the April 5 meeting between Kyl, McCain, President Ben Shelly, Vice President Rex Lee Jim and some Council delegates in Tuba City, Benally angrily said, "The senators said the lease extensions weren't in SB 2109, but read it."

She said that it's her hope that her legislation will pressure Kyl and McCain to withdraw S. 2109.

Prior to the April 5 meeting with the senators, Shelly refused to explain why he would fast-track S. 2109, as indicated by his chief of staff, Sherrick Roanhorse, who said the forums were scheduled as soon as possible because Shelly wanted to move Kyl's along as quickly as possible.

Roanhorse said the reason is that Shelly understands the lengthy congressional process that Kyl faces to get the bill before Congress during this session, which ends in December.

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