Monday, February 17, 2020
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Letters: Nez energy strategies inconsistent across states

President Nez seeks $62 million from Tucson Electric Power in an ongoing rate case for the Navajo Generating Station in Western Agency, yet across in Northern Agency, he agrees to give a $361 million bailout to New Mexico monopoly utility Public Service Company of New Mexico.

This not only inconsistent but contrasting behavior across so-called state borders is worth examining, as he is supposed to represent all Diné people in our homelands that span across so-called Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. As the coal industry ends across Diné lands, there continues to be no one from the Diné government showing up to these negotiations to represent the needs and demands of the people.

Nor has the Navajo Nation stepped in as an intervener in these enormous cases for the Tucson Electric rate case or the San Juan Generating Station closure case.

This means that they cannot participate in administrative proceedings to determine the future of the Diné impacted communities. After 50-plus years of being in the coal mining business, the Navajo Nation fails to step up for impacted communities for a just transition and for future generations.

The Energy Transition Act is now a law in New Mexico that supposedly transitions to a statewide low-energy carbon transition away from coal. The ETA provides only $1.8 million to the New Mexico Department of Indian Affairs and $40 million for workforce training and transition funds to affected communities, which includes and centers around the city of Farmington.

TEP is also a shareholder in the SJGS and Four Corners power plant. The ETA gives PNM over $361 million and allows PNM to completely abandon SJGS without any cleanup, as well as continue to be the monopoly energy provider in New Mexico.

The ETA also strips the Public Regulations Commission of its power to regulate. And, New Mexico ratepayers have to foot the bill for 100 percent of PNM’s imprudent investments. Meanwhile in Arizona, Nez says in negotiations for the closure of the Navajo Generating Station that no more than half the funding should come from ratepayers.

He is calling for TEP to establish a fund to support renewable energy projects. Why isn’t he demanding funding from multimillion-dollar corporations in Arizona and New Mexico?

TEP has shared ownership and responsibility for perpetuating the coal industry in Northern Agency. TEP is the smallest NGS custodian, owning just 7 percent of NGS compared to the 42.9 percent that Salt River Project owns, 14 percent that Arizona Public Service owns, and the 11.3 percent that Nevada Energy owns.

If President Nez is serious about securing finances for his people, it would make more sense to demand money from one of the larger plant owners, such as APS, of which ex-CEO Don Brandt earned over $12 million in one year. The stakes are high for young Diné and the future of our homeland. In the face of the climate crisis our leadership continuously fails us. As youngsters from the impacted communities in northern Diné Nation, why isn’t Prez Nez asking for transition funds for our community?

Our homelands go through other states and why is he only speaking on behalf of the community he comes from? Furthermore, what is the plan for the millions in revenue shortfall? As young Dine’ people, we are continuously embarrassed by our leaders.

Jobaa Yazzie Begaye
Doolí Diné
Shiprock, N.M.

Grazing lease fee hike makes ranching unprofitable

Ranching on the Navajo Reservation just got harder. We all know that ranching is a way a life which requires time and dedication. Successful ranching is dependent on many factors sometimes out of our control like rainfall, disease, and environmental conditions.

It is hard enough to carve out a living as a rancher when we battle the forces of nature. As a Navajo rancher we are now having to battle decisions made by the Navajo Nation’s Department of Agriculture. The most recent decision made was to increase the rate of our lease from $4/head to $6/head.

The increased cost of the lease is not profitable for the amount of time and money invested. As a comparison, a public land leases is less than $2/head a month.

March 2016 U.S. Bureau of Land Management and lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service lowered their fee 24 cents from $2.11 to $1.87/head. How does the NNDA justify the discrepancy?

As a tribe we are successful when the people are successful. This hike in our lease will result in the inability for any rancher to be successful. Decisions need to be made based on education and knowledge of current market. There are many opportunities to make educated decisions. I challenge our leaders to do what is best for the people and the success of ranchers they are asked to represent.

I would recommend the new 2020 Resources and Development Committee attend BLM plans to revise regulation for grazing on public lands to be held in Las Cruces, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., on Feb. 11, at Las Palmas Grill (201 E. University Ave.) or the 24th Annual New Mexico Indian Livestock Days on May 13-15 at the Route 66 Casino and Hotel.

This would help them when they want to provide future guidance to the Navajo ranchers. Navajo ranchers don’t want a handout, just a level playing field. This is just my perspective.

Justin D. Yazzie Jr.
Farmington, N.M.

Without God, there will be no healing

I have debated as to when I should write about the unfortunate situations that our people face and continue to suffer like the rest of the world. According to various sources, we all know the Navajo people continue to suffer because they will not admit that it’s a self-inflicted madness.

Think about this, the assistance we receive from various agencies, federal, state, border-town businesses, the Navajo Nation, etc. The death statistics of the Navajo people keeps increasing, especially in areas related to substance abuse (alcohol, drugs) and suicide.

All these incoming resources just provide jobs to those who deal with victims and family violence, but provide no real solutions. Let’s evaluate three areas: First, the use of liquor on the rez should be closely monitored, controlled and enforced.

Secondly, all the resources pouring in are going into a bottomless pit because the death by substance abuse continues to increase. Third, the Navajo leaders continue to beg for more money from the federal government. Now, all it does is provide more jobs and be top heavy.

Here is a list: Treatment centers, court liaison, public safety, and various counselors are all using secular methods. Now this tells me that majority of the people do not want to accept godly instructions.

This is so sad because the world is not getting any better and the human race is getting more corrupted. It’s becoming so evident, the world cannot tell the difference between truth and evil. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve served the Navajo people, government and Division of Public Safety for 35 years. Question: Why do people drink the devil’s brew?

They know it has killed a lot of people, friends and family members (young and old). The statistics of our precious youth continues to increase in this area. So, the concept of giving money and assistance to our people will stop them from drinking?

Reality: You can feed, clothe, run them through various treatment programs, train them for a job, give them a place to stay, but they do not know how to hold a job, be responsible and accountable. Human wisdom will not stop the cancerous addiction of the people. Whenever we share godly wisdom only a few will listen.

Instead they would rather listen to wisdom of the world. In conclusion, humans do not have the answer to these addictions. It is a spiritual problem. I would rather share the good news of Jesus Christ with anyone that’s alive than a lifeless person.

I have been praying and will continue to pray for our Navajo people to soften their hearts and open their mind. The Bible says the heart of a person is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. I am praying for a real solution for the Navajo people.

Pastor Milt Shirleson
Window Rock, Ariz.



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