Delegate drops bill for NGS takeover
Council Delegate Rickie Nez has dropped legislation supporting Navajo Transitional Energy Company’s independent acquisition of Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine.
The legislation, which was dropped Friday, is currently in the five-day comment period. The bill stipulates that the Navajo Nation will not provide any financial guarantees pertaining to NTEC’s acquisition of NGS and Kayenta Mine.
It also states that the Nation would not grant any waivers or release of claims to the NGS owners or NTEC pertaining to the acquisition of NGS and Kayenta Mine.
During a Feb. 28 Naabik’iyati’ Committee meeting, Speaker Seth Damon announced that communication with SRP had come to a standstill after the company indicated it would not sell NGS to NTEC unless the Nation waives all claims against the owners, and provides a full, unlimited financial guarantee regarding the financial liabilities and reclamation of the power plant.
“This could involve all the Nation’s assets including the Permanent Trust Fund,” said Damon during the meeting, “if the liability exceeds bond protection procured by NTEC, and/or the Nation, and the amount put into escrow by the owners.
Damon also said there are two hindrances on the purchase and they are:
• NTEC had always stated they would not come to the Nation and ask for the Nation to guarantee all liability and waivers.
• NTEC also indicated they won’t approach the Nation with this, because they believe acquiring NGS is a business transaction between the two companies, and the Nation doesn’t need to “entangle” itself in the deal.
Nez has made it no secret he supports NTEC’s acquisition of NGS. During Thursday’s Naabik’iyati’ work session with groups opposing the acquisition, such as Diné CARE, Tó Nizhóní Ani and Black Mesa Water Coalition, he said he would be sponsoring a bill in support of NTEC, citing the impact to the Navajo Nation’s budget if NGS closes down.
“I’m going to be the person sponsoring this legislation,” said Nez. “We need to start thinking about how many legislative branch employees we will be laying off (if NGS closes). We need to start thinking about how many executive branch employees we will be laying off, same with the judicial branch. We need to think about which chapters we are going to shut down because they wont get enough money. We are going to start telling our veterans ‘No funding.’”
Council Delegate Daniel Tso said they might as well “fast-track” the legislation since Nez seemed determined to sponsor a bill without further health studies or data, or hearing from coal miners themselves.
“Delegate Rickie Nez basically said he will sponsor a legislation,” said Tso. “It seems like we aren’t going to look at the data or information. We are going to make a decision based on limited information.”
The bill will be ready for committee action on Wednesday. It will be heading to the Resource and Development Committee and then Naabik’iyati’.