The Sierra Club and the Navajo grassroots group Black Mesa United co-sponsored a "Water is Life" forum in Flagstaff, Arizona, in mid-December. More than 30 residents of Black Mesa attended the forum, which focused on pollution from Peabody Energy's Kayenta and Black Mesa coal mines to the water supply for the Forest Lake Navajo.
"Forest Lake is the closest Navajo Chapter to the Kayenta and Black Mesa mines," says Sierra Club organizer Andy Bessler, below left, who helped put together the forum. "Over 80 families live within Peabody's leasehold, where regular blasting pollutes the air, toxic water pollutes springs and washes, and groundwater pumping depletes the local aquifer."
Black Mesa residents had requested an update on what the Sierra Club and other groups are doing in response to Peabody's request for a mine permit renewal on Black Mesa, as well as expected EPA action to clean up the Navajo Generating Station, below right, near Page, Arizona.
Thanks to the work of the Sierra Club, allied groups, and tribal partners, the Black Mesa Mine is currently idle. But the Kayenta Mine, below, continues to send millions of tons of coal to the Navajo Generating Station via an extensive train and conveyer belt system.
Photo courtesy of Doc Searls
Fern Bernally, a board member of Black Mesa United, welcomed everyone to the forum, and Black Mesa resident Maria Gladue translated from English to Navajo throughout the day for the many elders present who spoke only Navajo. That's Gladue, below, talking about the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign's recent public service ad highlighting the adverse impacts of coal power on public health.