Windmills and Foul Air in the Navajo Nation

To much environmentalist acclaim, the Navajo Nation has announced plans to create a new wind-power plant on a reservation in Arizona.

But Navajo leadership is still trying to win approval for a coal-fired power plant that environmentalists have bitterly opposed.

The wind project, a joint venture with Boston’s Citizens Energy Corp., would produce 500 megawatts of power and provide jobs and up to $100 million in revenue for the Navajo Nation.

Plans call for hundreds of windmills reaching as high as 400 feet, the Arizona Republic reported.

In an interview with Reuters, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley also discussed his continuing attempts to develop a $3 billion, 1,500-megawatt coal-burning plant on Navajo land.

“It’s all about putting food on the table, putting shoes on little feet,” he told the wire service.

While the Navajo Nation is a sovereign entity, it must get approval for the plant from the United States.

The plan has been opposed by environmental groups and many Navajo Nation residents — some Navajo activists have blockaded roads leading to the proposed site of the plant.

A coal plant already operating on Navajo land has been blamed for giving the area some of the dirtiest air in the state.

Additional controversy is brewing over efforts to mine uranium on the reservation, which the tribe has previously banned.

–Will Crain/


“Navajo Nation to develop 500 MW of wind power”
Reuters, March 27, 2008

“Citizens and the Nation”
Grist, March 28, 2008

“Navajos set to tap power of the wind”
Arizona Republic, March 28, 2008

“Navajo Nation Signs Agreement with Boston-Based Firm to Coordinate Development of Wind-Power Projects on Navajo Lands”, March 31, 2008

“Navajo Nation struggles to build coal plant”
Reuters, March 28, 2008

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