BMWC Issues in the News


ICTMN Staff (June 29, 2015) Wool Power! Navajo Sheepherding Shines at ‘Sheep is Life” [20 Photos]. Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved July 6, 2015 from.

On June 19 and 20, Diné College in Tsaili, Arizona, hosted the Sheep Is Life Celebration. A tribute to Navajo sheepherding and weaving culture, Sheep is Life included demonstrations and workshops  on traditional shearing, skirting, washing, carding, dying, spinning, weaving, felting and other fiber arts. Other attractions included a competitive sheep and wool show, demonstrations of butchering, and plenty of delicious lamb and mutton dishes.

Photography and multimedia company Lizard Light Productions ( was on hand to document the event; for more scenes of Native cultural and arts events in Arizona, be sure to follow them at


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ICTMN Staff (June 29, 2015) Wool Power! Navajo Sheepherding Shines at ‘Sheep is Life” [20 Photos]. Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved July 6, 2015 from.

Law360, Chicago (January 27, 2015, 4:12 PM ET) — A coalition of tribal and conservation groups won new life Monday in their bid to force the U.S. Department of the Interior to pay their legal fees from a mining permit feud in Arizona, after the Ninth Circuit ruled the groups were eligible for — but not necessarily entitled to — a fee award.The dispute stems from a successful 2009 challenge brought by Black Mesa Water Coalition and others against a permit revision that the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement had granted…

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Hull, Tim (January 26, 2015) Fees Possible, Despite Case’s Consolidation. Courthouse News Service. Retrieved March 13, 2015 from.

(CN) – A federal agency may owe $200,000 to an environmental group that challenged a coal-mining permit on the Navajo Reservation, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday.
The Black Mesa Water Coalition, a coalition of Navajo and environmental groups, had gone to court in 2009 after the Federal Office of Surface Mining Control and Enforcement (OSM) approved a revision to Peabody Western Coal Co.’s permit to mine coal in northeastern Arizona.
After consolidating several similar challenges, an administrative law judge vacated the permit in 2010, agreeing that the agency had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and neglected to consider a proper range of alternatives in its environmental impact statement.
Black Mesa, considering itself the victor in the challenge, then petitioned the agency to recover some $206,000 in attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses.
Disputing such relief, the OSM argued that the group was “neither ‘eligible’ for nor ‘entitled’ to fees under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act,” according to the 9th Circuit’s summary of the case.
Now siding with the agency, the administrative law judge found that, among other things, consolidation of the various cases meant that no individual party had achieved success on the merits of its petition, and that Black Mesa “did not cause the determination of the issues.”
Confirming that the group was not “entitled” to fees, the Interior Board of Land Appeals noted that Black Mesa lawyers had spent only 5.33 hours “conferring … about NEPA issues” out of a total of 1,065 hours spent on the case.
U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow in Phoenix affirmed, but the federal appeals court in San Francisco revived the group’s claim on Monday.
The three-judge panel found that Black Mesa is indeed “eligible” for fees, as it achieved at least some degree of success in the case.
Declining to consider whether Black Mesa was also “entitled” to fees, the unanimous panel sent the case back to the Office of Surface Mining Control and Enforcement.
The “issue should be remanded for the agency to consider, because we cannot be sure how the agency will view substantial contribution when told that Black Mesa was in fact eligible for fees, contrary to the agency’s prior rationale,” Judge Ronald Gould wrote for the court.
Adding a few thoughts on the agency’s current view on fees in consolidated cases, Gould said that the court had a “degree of discomfort with the possibility that unless parties sit down and agree to fight a fully-coordinated battle, then they must duplicate one another’s arguments in each of their individual briefs to preserve entitlement to fees.”
“Under the agency’s rationale, this would appear to require increased litigation costs and expenses before parties could seek to recover their requested award amounts, forcing the agency, if unsuccessful on the merits of an administrative appeal, to pay for more extensive briefing, if in the end the agency awarded fees,” he wrote. “It is more sensible to recognize that once a party has gained some degree of success on the merits, it may then be awarded fees only if it made a substantial contribution to a full and fair resolution of the issues, and that the amount of any fee award will be commensurate with its contribution to the result.”

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Armao, Mark (December 12, 2014) Breaking the code of the Navajo Nation. Tucson Sentinel. Retrieved December 15, 2014 from.

For many Americans, the word Navajo conjures up images of the World War II code talkers who used their unique language to encrypt secret radio messages sent to the front lines.

Here’s what many don’t know. It’s the most populous Native American tribe in the United States. Its reservation encompasses 27,000 square miles in three states. If the Nation had statehood, it would be larger than West Virginia.

Widespread poverty, rampant unemployment, low graduation rates and debilitating diseases like Type 2 diabetes are among the chief concerns of the Navajo. Obesity and alcoholism plague the area. Running water and electricity are a luxury.

Earlier this year, the nation received a $554 million settlement from the U.S. government for the country’s misappropriation of Nation funds and natural resources. How that settlement will be spent is far from being decided. No decisions are expected until a contentious election for leadership of the Nation is held next year.

Yet many say the money will do little to solve the nation’s ills.

The nation’s full-blooded population, according to recent U.S. Census data, is 286,000, with 87 percent of those still living on the land. Promising strides have been made in the fields of health care, education and infrastructure over the past 50 years, but many issues remain.

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Worrall, Simon (November 28, 2014) Naomi Klein on How Canada’s First Nations Can Take on the Oil Industry and Win; Indigenous peoples may be key to combating climate change, author says. National Geographic. Retrieved June 23, 2015 from

She’s glamorous and brilliant, a mother and a social critic. She has appeared in Vogue and marched with Occupy Wall Street protesters. Her books have been international best sellers—and channeled the zeitgeist, illuminating issues we thought we knew about but didn’t.

3 Reasons Why Shell Halted Drilling In the Arctic
Will New U.S. Restrictions on Methane Be Enough?
Why More Scientists are Speaking Out on Contentious Issues
The New York Times has compared Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything, to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. In it, Naomi Klein rips up the rule book on climate change—and offers a radical new vision of hope for the future.

Talking from her home in Toronto, she explains how becoming a mother changed her perspective, why Canada’s First Nations may be best placed to halt the Keystone XL pipeline, and what kind of world she hopes her son will grow up in.

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Gilbert, Geoff (November 5, 2014) #FloodWallStreet Climate Activism: It’s Capitalism, .

“We are unstoppable, another world is possible.” “The people united will never be defeated.” “This is what democracy looks like.” The populist chants rang through Manhattan’s Financial District in a scene that is becoming familiar in our post-recession world of mass economic deprivation and uncertainty. A couple thousand activists, united by concern about corporate-driven climate change, effectively shut down Broadway between Morris Street and Rector Street for over eight hours, unfurling a 300-foot banner that named the reason for their arrival: “Capitalism=Climate Chaos.” The message amounted to nothing less than a direct challenge to the core authoritative institutions of our society: an economic status quo empowered by the political establishment and explained to us through the filter of the corporate-owned press. In keeping with the spirit of the times, the Department of Homeland Security was never far away. Its vehicles lined the sidewalk between the National Museum of the American Indian and Bowling Green Park. Their presence appeared as a stark reminder of the official interpretation of security in these times of mass economic insecurity.

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Tramel, Salena (November 4, 2014) Social Movements Gain Momentum in the Fight for Climate Justice. Huffington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2014 from .

Upwards of 400,000 people taking to the streets of Manhattan this past September 21, combined with parallel protests around the world, was truly a spectacular scene. Even while energized by the People’s Climate March and subsequent People’s Climate Justice Summit and Tribunal, key organizers in the climate justice movement insist that the real task at hand began when the crowds filtered out in the critical weeks and months leading up to COP global treaty negotiations in Lima this December and in Paris in December 2015.

On Sunday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released itsSynthesis Report, warning of the “severe, pervasive and irreversible” nature of climate change. While welcoming this sense of urgency, tightly knit coalitions of activists stand firm in the belief that communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis hold the real solutions in turning the rising tides — not the corporate-driven UN agenda.

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Brecher, Jeremy (October 8, 2014) Climate Destruction in the Court of Public Opinion. CounterPunch Magazine. Retrieved October 13, 2014 from .

As the leaders of more than a hundred of the world’s governments addressed the U.N. Climate Summit last week, people’s organizations from around the world convened a Climate Justice Tribunal across from the United Nations to indict political leaders and corporate polluters for their failure to protect our health, communities and planet. Those testifying were those living with the real and immediate impacts of climate change and people living on the frontlines of extractive industries that are contributing to climate change. From the front window of the U.N. Church Center auditorium participants could see the U.N. building bathed in bright sunlight, its rooftop festooned with snipers.

Sponsored by the Climate Justice Alliance, which describes itself as a collaboration of 35 U.S. organizations rooted in indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working-class white frontline communities, the tribunal made no pretense to impartiality. It resembled less a conventional trial than a grand jury drawing up an indictment — not claiming to prove guilt but rather to show “probable cause” for charging the perpetrators with a crime. Movement activists Lisa Garcia of Earth Justice, Julia Olson of Our Children’s Trust, Rex Varona of the Global Coalition on Migration, and I served as a “People’s Judicial Panel,” listening to the testimony and providing commentary on its significance. As judges, we saw our principal role as hearing and amplifying the voices of the witnesses.

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Aronoff, Kate (September 26, 2014) Long-standing Economic Resistance Went Mainstream at People’s Climate March. Waging Nonviolence. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from .

Writing for Vice earlier this week, Natasha Lennard argued that, while newsworthy, the People’s Climate March should not earn the title of historic: “Taken in isolation, mass marches — even when truly massive — do not history make.” Lennard’s analysis is exactly right, but it doesn’t apply to this past weekend’s events.

Combined, the People’s Climate March on Sunday followed by Flood Wall Street the next day, uplifted a narrative around climate change that was impossible for even the most mainstream of media to ignore. In the words of Fox News talking head James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Try as they might, journalists struggled to find a story that fit comfortably into a so-called “mainstream” environmentalist framework — that is, one friendlier to market-based solutions than it traditionally has been to black, brown, working class and otherwise marginalized communities that fall within the “sacrifice zones” of an extractive economy. Sunday’s 300-foot long banner emblazoned with the words “Capitalism = Climate Chaos” didn’t hurt, either.

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Stephenson, Wen (September 24, 2014) These Front-Line Communities Know What Climate Justice Would Mean – and They’re Not Seeing It at the UN (photos of BMWC delegates). The Nation. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from .

On Tuesday, two days after some 400,000 of us took to the streets of midtown Manhattan, calling on world leaders for serious and urgent climate action, I found myself sitting in a conference room at the UN Church Center on First Avenue, its floor-to-ceiling windows offering a beautiful view of the United Nations building across the street, flags flying crisply in the sun. I was there for the final day of the People’s Climate Justice Summit, convened by the Climate Justice Alliance, a collaborative network of more than thirty-five grassroots and supporting organizations that unites communities on the front lines of climate disaster and fossil-fuel extraction and pollution across the United States. (Nation readers may recall reading about the CJA in my cover story “From Occupy to Climate Justice” last February.)

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Jaffe, Sarah (September 24, 2014) Naomi Klein on Cause of Climate Crisis: “Capitalism is Stupid”. Truthout. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from .

Naomi Klein, author of the groundbreaking books, No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, is back with a new groundbreaking work, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. The book resets the debate over global warming by focusing on how it is integrally related to the current economic system that spans the globe. Contribute to Truthout and receive this vitally important work. Click here now.

Naomi Klein is out to change hearts and minds around climate change.

Her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate out now from Simon & Schuster, is a broad challenge to those who want a livable planet: We need to come up with a livable economic system too. Deeply researched and personally reported, Klein’s third book takes us from the tar sands in Alberta (“Earth, skinned alive”) to the oil-soaked waters of the Gulf of Mexico (“a miscarriage”), from climate denier conferences to a meeting of would-be geoengineers, as she traces the path of destruction that capitalism and a mindset she terms “extractivism” – that is perhaps even older – have left on the Earth.

At one point, Klein concedes, it might have been possible to stop the climate crisis with a few regulations here, a carbon tax there. But we’re too far gone for that, and nothing but a full-on change in how humans relate to the Earth and to each other will save us now.

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Lazare, Sarah (September 24, 2014) Obama’s Pitiful Pledge Epitomizes Failure of UN Summit: Climate Campaigners. Common Dreams. Retrieved on October 1, 2014 from

Historic crowds gathered in New York City this week to demand drastic action in the face of the ever worsening climate crisis. But at Tuesday’s Climate Summit at the United Nations headquarters, heads of state—most notably President Obama—did not come close to heeding the urgent calls for concrete action, say climate justice campaigners.

The summit was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to showcase “government, finance, business, and civil society” solutions to the climate crisis, according to a UN announcement. Politicians, corporations, and token civil society groups were invited to participate, while social movement organizations were excluded from the summit. Perhaps the most notable thing about this year’s meeting, which follows a similar gathering in Copenhagen in 2009, was the large role played by corporations in the day’s events and plenaries. Justin Gillis pointing out in the New York Times that “companies are playing a larger role than at any such gathering in the past.”

By contrast, numerous heads of state did not attend the summit, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Sutter, John D. (September 22, 2014) Re: No One Cares About Climate Change. CNN. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from .

But I put those doubts completely to rest on Sunday as I wove through hopeful crowds of thousands at thePeople’s Climate March in New York, which was billed by organizers as the biggest rally against climate change world has ever seen. There was no independent estimate of the size of the crowd immediately available, but organizers said as many as 310,000 people attended — many from far reaches of the globe, ahead of a UN climate summit here this week.

Marchers sound urgent call for climate change action

World leaders are expected to discuss the topic and, hopefully, build momentum for more-concrete climate talks in Paris next year. Climate marches also were held on Sunday in 2,800 other locations, according to organizers, from Paris to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

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Chandler, Marguerite (June 19, 2014) Common Bound: Moving Together Towards a New Economy. Retrieved June 19, 2014 from .

The youngest participant is a 9-year old girl. Grey beards and grey heads mix with college student interns. Men and women of all ages and races, representing every part of the United States, welcome visitors from Canada and South America. There’s a spirit of generosity and inclusiveness, laughter, poetry, and an inspiring vision of a generative, thriving world and a hunger to hear from innovators and early adapters. Everyone has questions–and some answers. As Ed Whitfield, the co-founder of the Greensboro, NC, Fund for Democratic Communities ( ) observed, “People are resilient and wildly creative.”

This is the spirit of Common Bound, a 2-day conference in Boston sponsored by New Economy Coalition, ( ) a movement of movements, 115 organizations, 650 participants. We came here to share our hard-earned wisdom, seek collaborations, create new possibilities, eager to learn from one another. Hard issues like the costs of mass incarceration and austerity are explored. Questions are raised like how Patagonia’s green business model could transform a Wal-Mart-type corporation and what role worker cooperatives, time banks, and land trusts play to bring elements of the New Economy to scale.

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Randazzo, Ryan (May 30, 2014) Protestors target SRP’s coal plant in Page. AZ Central. Retrieved June 3, 2014 from .

A handful of protestors gathered outside Salt River Project’s headquarters Friday morning, urging environmental regulators to force additional pollution controls on the company’s coal-fired power plant near Page.

Nine adults and five children showed up for the protest, but Sierra Club officials said they submitted 10,000 petitions to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the plant.

Erica Cheshire of Phoenix brought her two boys, Jaxon, 10 and Keegan, 7.

Jaxon held a sign that said “Your greed gave me asthma” while Keegan had one reading “I deserve clean air.”

“We are huge climate change activists,” Cheshire said while the boys held their signs for a photo.

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Pember, Mary Annette (February 24, 2014) Speak Your Piece: Coal and the Navajo. The Daily Yonder. Retrieved February 25, 2014 from.

The recent purchase of the Navajo Mine by the Navajo tribe is a perfect example of the power that fear of economic hardship holds over vulnerable populations.

Fear pushes communities like the Navajo Nation – with its more than 40% unemployment rate and 43% of the population living below the poverty level – to take desperate, short-sighted means to ensure continued income from an industry that effectively results in both their physical and cultural destruction.

That industry is coal, and it is an old, ugly story for the Navajo.

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Stephenson, Wen (February 6, 2014) From Occupy to Climate Justice. The Nation. Retrieved June 19, 2014 from .

It’s an odd thing, really. in certain precincts of the left, especially across a broad spectrum of what could be called the economic left, our (by which I mean humanity’s) accelerating trajectory toward the climate cliff is little more popular as a topic than it is on the right. In fact, possibly less so. (Plenty of right-wingers love to talk about climate change, if only to deny its grim and urgent scientific reality. On the left, to say nothing of the center, denial takes different forms.)

Sometimes, though, the prospect of climate catastrophe shows up unexpectedly, awkwardly, as a kind of non sequitur—or the return of the repressed.

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Guerin, Emily (January 7, 2014) Navajo Nation’s Purchase of a New Mexico Coalmine is a Mixed Bag. High Country News, Retrieved January 28, 2014 from.

The Navajo Nation got coal for Christmas this year – literally. On December 30, a Navajo tribal corporation finally completed its drawn-out purchase of the Navajo Mine, the sole supplier of coal to New Mexico’s Four Corners Power Plant. Depending on whom you ask, this is either a historic milestone for tribal energy independence, or a soon-to-be millstone hanging around the tribe’s neck.

Let’s consider the naysayers first.

Diné CARE, a Navajo environmentalist group, has opposed the purchase from the get-go, arguing that previous mine owner BHP Billiton was trying to dump an unprofitable asset on the Navajo people. Indeed, the reason the mine is for sale at all is because BHP couldn’t agree on a coal price with Four Corners Power Plant’s operator, Arizona Public Service. And now that Four Corners has shuttered its three oldest coal-burning units to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s haze regulations, the plant will buy 30 percent less coal from the mine than it used to. That means less profit for whomever operates the mine.

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Cardwell, Diane (September 2, 2013) A Bet on the Environment. The New York Times. Retrieved September 20, 2013 from

Just after his sophomore year at Yale in 2002, Billy Parish stood before a rapidly retreating glacier in India that feeds the Ganges River, convinced that he had come face to face with climate change and that he had to do something about it.

It did not take long. Back in the United States, he started a youth coalition that, within a few years, had mobilized thousands of people with similar environmental concerns. He never made it to his junior year at Yale.

In the years since, Mr. Parish has come to another conclusion: that capitalism is a powerful force that can be harnessed to combat global warming. Now 31, he is well into making that his next mission, building an online solar energy investment platform that could turn ordinary Americans into mini-financiers.

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Locke, Katherine (August 13, 2013) Poll Suggests 80 Percent of Arizonans Favor Keeping NGS Running. Navajo-Hopi Observer. Retrieved August 20, 2013 from

PAGE, Ariz. – A poll sponsored by the Arizona Coalition for Water, Energy and Jobs suggests a majority of Arizonans favor keeping Navajo Generating Station (NGS) up and running.

The poll, conducted by national pollster Magellan Strategies of Colorado, said 80 percent of Arizonans are opposed to the technical working group’s “back-room deal-making aimed at the early shut down of NGS.”

The technical working group includes representatives from Salt River Project (SRP) on behalf of itself and the owners of NGS, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the Defense Fund, the Navajo Nation, the Gila River Indian community, the U.S. Department of Interior and Western Resource advocates.

SRP will play host to a community meeting on Aug. 15 to discuss the technical working group’s proposal for NGS. The meeting takes place at the Page PERA Club, 445 Haul Road., Page, Ariz. at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.

Grant Smedley, SRP’s manager of environmental policy and innovation, will explain the proposal, which was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 26.

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Advincula, Anthony (July 23, 2013) Ethnic Media Highlight Role of Covering Indian Country. New American Media. Retrieved July 23, 2013 from

TEMPE, Ariz. —Nine months after touring the Navajo-Hopi reservation as part of an environmental fellowship, reporters and editors from Arizona ethnic media recounted their experiences in a panel discussion last Friday.

The discussion, “Empowering Communities Through New America Media,” was part of a four-day Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) conference that drew hundreds of journalists from across the country.

In October, five reporters representing Latino, African American, Chinese and Native American media toured the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant located within the Navajo Reservation near Page, Arizona. During the discussion Friday, they shared their experiences and spoke about the role ethnic media plays in highlighting Native American issues.

“I was surprised at how isolated the reservation residents were from their surrounding communities,” said Ruben Hernandez, one of the fellows and a contributing editor at Latino Perspectives Magazine. These residents, he continued, are “unknowingly, the recipients of electricity and water” generated on the reservation.

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Nguyen, Ngoc (June 28, 2013) Q&A: Obama’s Climate Plan Could Ease Path to Clean Energy on Tribal Lands. New American Media. Retrieved July 1, 2013 from

Editor’s note: President Obama unveiled a national plan to tackle climate change earlier this week, using his executive powers to bypass Congress, which had been gridlocked on measures to address the problem. The plan, for the first time, calls for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set limits on carbon emissions from new and old power plants, which make up about a third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Coal-powered plants are the heaviest emitters of carbon pollution, and on tribal lands in Arizona, Native Americans have been pushing to transition their tribal economies away from coal and toward renewable energy. NAM’s Ngoc Nguyen spoke with Wahleah Johns, who co-directs the grassroots Black Mesa Water Coalition, on what lessons their work has for a national shift toward cleaner and renewable energy.

New America Media: How does Obama’s plan affect the work you are doing to transition away from coal power on tribal lands?

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Lazare, Sarah (June 19, 2013) Navajos Launch Direct Action Against Big Coal. Common Dreams. Retrieved June 25, 2013 from

Navajo Nation members launched a creative direct action Tuesday to protest the massive coal-fueled power plant that cuts through their Scottsdale, Arizona land.

After a winding march, approximately 60 demonstrators used a massive solar-powered truck to pump water from the critical Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal into barrels for delivery to the reservation.

Flanked by supporters from across the United States, tribe members created a living example of what a Navajo-led transition away from coal toward solar power in the region could look like.

Participants waved colorful banners and signs declaring ‘Power Without Pollution, Energy Without Injustice’.

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Berwyn, Bob (June 19, 2013) Growing Coalition Demands Faster Shift to Renewable Energy. Summit County Citizens Voice. Retrieved June 25, 2013 from

FRISCO — In a peaceful demonstration against energy imperialism, members of Navajo Nation demonstrated the power of solar along the Central Arizona Project canal in Scottsdale, using a large mobile solar-powered generator to run pumps that moved water from the canal into nearby buckets and barrels.

“Many Navajo families had to pen their sheep alone today on the reservation to be here in Scottsdale and show SRP (Salt River Project) that solar works,” said Marshall Johnson, Navajo Nation resident and To Nizhoni Ani co-founder. “We were able to get a little bit of water from CAP pumped into our barrels today before the police moved us, and we are going to take this back to our sheep on the reservation.”

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Rowe, Claudia (June 6, 2013) Coal Mining on Navajo Nation in Arizona Takes Heavy Toll. Huffington Post. Retrieved June 25, 2013 from

KAYENTA, Ariz. — In a dimly-lit home off a tangle of dirt roads on the Navajo Nation, 80-year-old Simon Crank sits on his living room couch, recalling the days when executives from a coal company in St. Louis, Mo., would visit, bringing sweets as gifts, promising jobs. Under a shady tree, they offered steady work at union wages in a place where most families could hope for nothing more lucrative than rug weaving.

The room where Crank speaks 49 years later is heated with a pellet-burning fireplace because a doctor has forbidden the elderly man to burn wood. After a lifetime working in Peabody Energy’s coal mines, his lungs can’t tolerate the smoke. Crank now drives hundreds of miles a month, seeking medical care at hospitals in Flagstaff, Ariz. and Colorado.

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Locke, Katherine (April 30, 2013) Navajo Nation Council Holds off on Approving Navajo Generating Station Lease. Navajo-Hopi Observer. Retrieved May 6, 2013 from

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Navajo Nation Council tabled a decision until Monday on a Navajo Generating Station (NGS) lease extension, citing concerns about the federal government’s role, water use, pollution and the make-up of the negotiating team.

Erny Zah, director of communications for the Navajo Nation, said the lease extension has been negotiated for the past two and a half years and the idea that the council wasn’t involved is not true.

“The negotiating team had update meetings for council and other leaders to let them know where negotiations were going and where they were at and where do we go from here,” Zah said. “A few of the delegates took that opportunity to voice their opinion and did help guide the negotiating team to some areas that would hopefully be satisfactory to what the council people were wanting.”

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Carpenter, Zoe. (April 25, 2013) The Climate Fighters. Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 25, 2013 from

Can we crowd-fund our way to a solar revolution? That’s the vision of Billy Parish, the co-founder of Mosaic, an Oakland start-up that enables individuals to invest collectively in solar projects. So far, the company has channeled more than $1 million into solar panels atop housing complexes and community centers. The idea that crowd-funding could catalyze the shift to green energy was inspired by Parish’s wife, Wahleah Johns, a founder of the Black Mesa Water Coalition, which advocates for a transition to renewables on the impoverished Navajo Nation in the Southwest. Decades of dirty-energy production on Navajo lands have left a legacy of pollution, even while thousands continue to live without electricity. “Solar can generate revenues for communities,” Johns says. “But we have to find ways of financing these projects. Tribes don’t have the capital.” At current rates of traditional, top-down investment, a worldwide change to renewables will take about 400 years. Parish, who dropped out of Yale in 2002 to become a full-time activist, thinks his financing model could supercharge that process. “We’re trying to find new capital but also get people invested in clean energy, literally.”

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Cole, Cyndy. (February 13, 2013) Navajo, Hopi Renewable Projects to Get Big Cash Infusion From Former Coal Plant. Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved February 14, 2013 from

The Hopi and Navajo tribes have won a considerable award out of a former coal-fired power plant in Laughlin, Nevada: Pollution credits worth perhaps $10 million.

California’s utility regulatory body redirected funds from Southern California Edison to local tribes.

The money comes from tradable credits the utility is getting for the acid rain it is longer producing at the shuttered energy plant – or caps on sulfur dioxide.

It will be used to establish a revolving loan fund – one where loans are taken out repeatedly and paid back repeatedly – for renewable energy projects that benefit the tribes.

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Gearon, Jihan (February 7, 2013) Getting Beyond Coal. Arizona Republic. Retrieved February 14, 2013 from

We’re seeing a lot of purported concern these days from Arizona politicians and opinion writers in The Arizona Republic about the economy in Navajo country, where I’m from.

But the notion that jobs and revenue can come only from mining and burning coal is the agenda of multinational mining companies like Peabody Energy, not the priority of many Navajos today. The Navajo Generating Station has been a huge drain on water, using up massive quantities from the Colorado every year.

And someone should give Attorney General Tom Horne a primer on the chemicals in coal emissions that produce smog haze, considering his news release about his lawsuit against pollution reductions at three Arizona coal plants. Yes, those same chemicals also hurt health, especially kids’ and seniors’. Nitrogen oxides from coal smokestacks are an ingredient in ozone and fine particulates.

Renewable energy can be an economic and revenue engine far beyond fossil fuels on Navajo land and far safer for the water, air, and health protected, and the carbon pollution cut. Caring about the economy of the Navajo Nation doesn’t mean digging in to stay stuck with the coal status quo.

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Johns, Wahleah. (February 3, 2013) Mr. Obama’s Coal Plant. The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2013 from

President Obama owns a coal-fired power plant. A big one.

Okay, not Mr. Obama personally. But the federal government is indeed the largest owner of the biggest coal power plant in the West: 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station near the Grand Canyon on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona.

In his inaugural address pledge to respond to the threat of devastating climate change, the president said that America must lead the transition toward sustainable energy sources. Promising news for our children, but what are the specifics?

Many have pointed to the upcoming decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But similarly telling will be the role the Administration plays in decisions that loom on Navajo Generating Station.

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Smith, Noel L. (January 4, 2013) Navajo Group Proposes Solar Project on Black Mesa. The Navajo Times. Retrieved January 4, 2013 from

PINON, Ariz. – A community group here would like to tap into the potential to generate solar power on Black Mesa.

The proposal from Black Mesa Water Coalition was brought to the Navajo Nation Council’s Resources and Development Committee on Dec. 4 in a meeting at the Piñon Chapter House.

The coalition is seeking permission to construct a 1-5 megawatt solar demonstration project on at least 40 acres of reclaimed land at Black Mesa Mine, which closed in December 2005.

The mine started producing coal in 1970 with a contract to serve Mohave Generating Station near Laughlin, Nev. but when Mohave closed, so did Black Mesa.

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Shebala, M. (August 9, 2012) Activists Want Benally to Head Water Task Force. Navajo Times. Retrieved August 13, 2012 from

An alliance of Navajo grassroots organizations is recommending the appointment of Council Delegate Katherine Benally to head the effort to re-negotiate a water rights settlement to govern the Little Colorado River.

Speaker Johnny Naize is recommending that he, as speaker, handle that job. Naize was directed by the Council to set up a water rights task force when the delegates voted July 5 against the Navajo Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement proposed by President Ben Shelly.

Benally, who chairs the Council’s Resources and Development Committee, has been a vocal critic of the agreement and the enabling legislation that would make it law.

The Diné Water Rights Committee is comprised of the Forgotten People Corp., Black Mesa Water Coalition, To Nizhóní ání, Diné Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, Hada’asidi, Next Indigenous Generation, Council Advocating an Indigenous Manifesto, and individual tribal members.

According to Naize’s task force legislation, the task force would be a seven-member subcommittee of the Naa’bik’iyáti Committee.

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Eddings, K. (July 26, 2012) Lawrence High Senior Honored for Environmental Leadership. Eagle-Tribune. Retrieved August 1, 2012 from

BOSTON — In a slumping school system, Anthony Choquette is soaring.

Last night, the 17-year-old Lawrence High School senior reached a pinnacle when he was honored, along with former President Bill Clinton, at a ceremony where he collected an award for the environmental leadership he has shown in his hometown. His work included efforts to hold the city accountable for a pipe discharging sewage into the Shawsheen River.

The lanky South Lawrence resident has juggled a raft of environmental projects while also handling a course load top-heavy with Advanced Placement courses, which next semester will include AP calculus, AP English and AP government.

“From expanding a community garden in an alleyway to volunteer work at a local farmers market and food co-op, to invasive species removal and river and park cleanups, from leading Lawrence High School’s recycling program to participating in a program at a UMass field station on Nantucket, Anthony has been very busy,” Tom Jones, an Andover resident who is trustee of the Walden Woods Project, said as he introduced Choquette to a banquet packed with environmental activists at the Park Plaza Hotel.

Jones credited Choquette’s work monitoring illegal sewage discharges into the Shawsheen with demonstrating that it’s “completely possible for students to work alongside federal and state agencies to help find solutions to global environmental questions.”

Choquette’s work to clean up the Shawsheen began last year when he was on a class nature walk along the river with biology teacher Rebecca Veilleux, who smelled the stench of septic discharge coming from an outflow pipe into the river behind the South Lawrence East school complex.


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Gearon, J. (April 29, 2012) We Need Leaders to Champion a Clean-Energy Future. The Arizona Republic, Opinions. Retrieved July 3, 2012 from

Back in the 1960s and ’70s when many coal-burning power plants in the Southwest were built, coal was one of a limited number of options available for power generation.

That is no longer true. So why are we seeing so many industry and political leaders today behaving as if it were?

Consider the Navajo Generating Station coal plant near Page that sends electricity to Phoenix, Tucson, Nevada and California, but not to much-nearer Navajo communities.

Besides electricity, the plant generates pollution — literally tons. In addition to contaminants like mercury and lead, the smokestacks spew 25,000 tons of nitrogen oxide a year. That, in turn, produces fine-particle pollution that gets deep into people’s lungs and can cause heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks and lung cancer.

Everyone wants healthier air, and the Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to decide soon on updated pollution controls that the aging Navajo Generating Station needs to install to cut a lot more of its dangerous emissions.

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Johns, Wahleah (December 15, 2013) Wind and Solar Power Best For Navajo Nation. Indian Country Today. Retrieved December 17, 2013 from

Part of the debate about how to approach pollution cleanup at the big Navajo Generating Station coal-fired power plant near the Grand Canyon has always revolved around jobs and revenues for the Navajo Nation. Federal regulators heard more on this in recent public hearings.

Some in the Navajo Nation government very much want to see a coal future and therefore slow or delay any change for the coal plant as long as possible. Others, including Navajo community groups like Black Mesa Water Coalition and many Navajo Nation residents, see the energy landscape today quite differently.

We see that in the past two years the two largest U.S. coal companies, Peabody and Arch, have lost more than 75 percent of their value, while over the same period the price of solar panels has dropped some 60 percent.

We see utilities around the country buying wind power at prices lower than coal or natural gas, like Xcel Energy’s recently approved purchase of nearly 700 megawatts of wind energy, which will save customers in New Mexico and Texas nearly $600 million over 20 years.



Gearon, J. (May 11, 2012) Cities in the Desert Are Thirsty for Navajo Water. Indian Country Today. Retrieved July 3, 2012 from

Last weekend I traveled to Phoenix to visit my brother and friends, do some shopping, bask in the warm weather and basically, get away. When I was young the only time I went to Phoenix was for the state track meet or for a summer science program. It was so exciting. The big city! Bright and shiny. Hot. Fun. Full of current music and cute boys. Ahh Phoenix, the life-giving oasis. It was where I saw myself living one day when I “got away” from my boring and opportunity-less existence on the reservation. Today I still own remnants of that adolescent Phoenix State of Mind. I was excited about going to Phoenix last weekend. Besides the airport, I hadn’t spent any time there for quite awhile. Family, friends, shopping, warmth, cute boys…c’mon, I couldn’t wait!

Well friends, it was not what I expected- or rather, I was not what I expected. Instead of seeing just the shiny big city, I saw the unsustainable, unnatural virus of a city, growing and growing beyond its means. Instead of seeing just cute boys, I saw the 1.5 million people who have no idea where their energy comes from, where their water comes from, or how their city continues to grow in the middle of a desert! In addition to family and friends, I saw the family and friends who may never find their way back to our homeland or worse yet, find their way back to no homeland at all. Instead of a life giving oasis, I saw a life taking oasis.



Blogs & Newsletters

Patterson, Jacqueline (May 1, 2015) Building an Inclusive Movement to Advance a Sustainable Planet. Retrieved June 23, 2015 from.

This guest post was written by Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, and originally appeared on the Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism blog on April 22, 2015 and is reprinted with permission.

We are all impacted by climate change and environmental injustice. Over half of us live in counties in violation of air pollution standards, storms like KatrinaIrene, and Sandy don’t discriminate in the devastation they unleash, and communities across the coastlines of this country are facing imminent displacement due to sea level rise, which is overtaking land and resulting in increased risk of storm surge.

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Feinstein, Matt (September 23, 2014) While UN Climate Summit Makes False Promises, Peoples Climate Justice Summit Brings Community-Led Solutions. Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from

It takes roots to weather the storm, and these roots stretched across most of Manhattan on Sunday for the People’s Climate March (#PeoplesClimate). They then filled Wall Street with creative action and connected globally though discussions in auditoriums on Monday with the People’s Climate Justice Summit, and today will be holding a People’s Tribunal at the Church Center of the United Nations.

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(September 22, 2014) Flood Wall Street: The Best Photos. Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from.

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Norrell, Brenda (June 17, 2013) Native Americans Prepare to Defend Homelands, Walk Across America. The Narcosphere. Retrieve June 25, 2013 from

Native Americans focused on defending their homelands and upholding the Rights of Nature during June, as they prepared for non-violent resistance to the threats of the tarsands pipeline, uranium mining and coal-fired power plants.

Native Americans also prepared to walk across America for the fourth time to affirm Indigenous rights. The Longest Walk 4 Return to Alcatraz, will depart from DC on July 15, returning home to Alcatraz Island for a ceremony on Dec. 22, 2013.

In Chiapas, Zapatistas planned a gathering in August to continue the efforts which began in Yaqui territory in Sonora in 2007.

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(May 3, 2012) Carbon Supply Chain: Black Mesa and Beyond. CEP Blog. Retrieved July 3, 2012 from

The final National Climate Seminar for the spring 2012 semester wrapped up with a poignant conversation with Jihan Gearon, Executive Director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition. The conversation, entitled “Carbon Supply Chain: Black Mesa and Beyond,” touched on a diverse array of environmental themes including transitioning from coal to a clean energy economy, environmental justice, and indigenous rights.

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Norrell, B. (March 18, 2012) Navajo Louise Benally at Occupy Midwest: ‘No’ to Peabody Coal and Indian water rights theft. The Narcosphere. Retrieved July 3, 2012 from

ST LOUIS — Navajo Louise Benally, resisting relocation at Big Mountain, spoke out against Peabody Coal and the three decades of Peabody Coal’s rape of the land, theft of Black Mesa aquifer water and the collusion with politicians devastating Black Mesa and its people.

Speaking at the Occupy the Midwest gathering, Benally urged support to halt the theft of Indian water rights and halt the ongoing push by non-Indians to steal Navajo water rights in Arizona. This includes the machinations underway by Arizona congressmen and non-Indian tribal attorneys.

In St Louis, the home city of Peabody Coal, protesters rallied against the coal giant that has left a dirty trail of disease and destruction on the Navajo Nation, and across America. Benally spoke out against Peabody’s coal mine that continues on Black Mesa, providing coal for one of the nation’s dirtiest and most polluting power plants, the Navajo Generating Station, on the Navajo Nation near Page, Ariz, one of the major contributors to climate change.

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Audio and Video

Sarhan, Hanaan and Sebastian Walker. (August 24, 2015) Running Dry, episode of Fault Lines. Aljazeera America. Clip retrieved August 26, 2015 from.

The drought in the western U.S. is creating a battle over resources, as private landowners compete with the public over access to freshwater supplies.

In April, California Governor Jerry Brown announced a series of mandatory restrictions, forcing residents to reduce their water usage by 25 percent in the coming year. But the state’s powerful agriculture industry has yet to face cuts on the same scale, despite its massive role in depleting local water supplies.

It’s not just California facing a future without water. More than 40 million people across seven U.S. states and Mexico depend on the Colorado River, where demand is now exceeding supply.

Fault Lines travels down the Colorado to find out who really controls water in the West—and what, if anything, is being done to protect it.

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Shadley, Steve. (November 19, 2014) Navajo Nation Members Say Clean Air Proposal For Tribal Power Plants Too Lax. 91.5 KJZZ. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from.

Navajo environmentalists said the EPA’s latest proposal to reduce emissions linked to ozone depletion gives power plants on reservations special treatment.

“While the rest of the state of Arizona is going to have up to 50 percent reductions, for us its going to only be a mandated 4 to 6 percent reduction,” said Jihan Gearon of Black Mesa, Ariz.

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(October 29, 2014) Frontline voices call for Climate Justice, shut out of process. Retrieved November 17, 2014 from.

Frontline communities gathered for the People’s Climate Justice Summit following the historic Peoples Climate March on September 21, 2014 in New York City. We held a People’s Tribunal as global corporate and government leaders gathered across the street, allowing only a very small number of civil society representatives to join. One of those delegates, Kandi Mossett of Indigenous Environmental Network, describes the challenge that frontline communities encounter when trying to insert our perspectives into the climate debate.

(September 24, 2014) Video: $50 Billion Pledged for Fossil Fuel Divestment as Rockefeller Heirs Join Growing Movement (BMWC at min 57:24). Democracy Now! Retreived March 13, 2015 from

The heirs of Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller have announced they are joining the growing movement to divest from fossil fuels. At a news conference Monday, Stephen Heintz, president of the $860 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund, called divestment a “moral imperative,” as well as an economic opportunity.

Other speakers at the event included Agnes Abuom of the World Council of Churches, actor Mark Ruffalo, and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who delivered a video message. In total, more than 180 institutions and local governments and some 600 individuals have pledged to divest more than $50 billion from the polluting industries that are fueling climate change.

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(September 24, 2014) People’s Climate Justice Summit: People’s Tribunal – The People Face the Tribunal/Judges’ Responses. Climate Action Week: People’s Climate Justice Summit. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from.

The Climate Justice Alliance, including the Indigenous Environmental Network and other allies, are planning a two-day People’s Climate Justice Summit concurrent to the Climate Leaders Assembly convened by the UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon in New York City this September. The Summit delegates will convene at the UN Church Center, directly across the street from the UN, and the proceedings will be livestreamed for public viewing at The New School on both days. The purpose of this Summit is to convene a meeting of frontline community delegations from across the U.S. and around the world – that are both organizing against the root causes of climate change, and cultivating real solutions to address these causes. In response to the intransigence of political leaders in industrialized nations and corporations to take bold action, this convening will highlight strategies and pathways for resilience and resistance that are being built on the frontlines of this global economic and ecological crisis.

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Root Causes to Climate Change (BMWC at min 21:00). Climate Action Week: People’s Climate Justice Summit. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from.

The Climate Justice Alliance, including the Indigenous Environmental Network and other allies, are planning a two-day People’s Climate Justice Summit concurrent to the Climate Leaders Assembly convened by the UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon in New York City this September. The Summit delegates will convene at the UN Church Center, directly across the street from the UN, and the proceedings will be livestreamed for public viewing at The New School on both days. The purpose of this Summit is to convene a meeting of frontline community delegations from across the U.S. and around the world – that are both organizing against the root causes of climate change, and cultivating real solutions to address these causes. In response to the intransigence of political leaders in industrialized nations and corporations to take bold action, this convening will highlight strategies and pathways for resilience and resistance that are being built on the frontlines of this global economic and ecological crisis.

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(September 23, 2014) Flood Wall Street: 100 Arrested at Sit-In Targeting Financial Giants’ Role in Global Warming (BMWC delegates at min 31:23). Democracy Now! Retrieved October 1, 2014 from.

One day after the largest climate march in history in New York City, protesters rallied near Wall Street on Monday to highlight the financial industry’s role in fueling industries responsible for the air pollution that is causing global warming and climate change. The action came ahead of the one-day United Nations Climate Summit today, where leaders from 125 countries will take part in the first high-level climate talks since Copenhagen nearly five years ago. Dubbed “Flood Wall Street,” hundreds of protesters dressed in blue held a rowdy sit-in on Broadway just blocks from the U.S. Stock Exchange. The demonstrators occupied the street for more than eight hours until police began arresting some 100 people. Democracy Now! was in the streets to cover the action. Watch our video report to hear some of the voices of people in the demonstration.

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(September 16, 2014) Our Power in Full Force film. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from.

In August 2014, communities in Richmond hosted the Our Power National Convening with 450 participants from across the country to strategize about how to halt the climate crisis and transform the economy.

Our Power is rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working-class white communities throughout the U.S and engages grassroots communities to transition the economy in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the source, restore equity, and put decision-making in the hands of communities.

(April 12, 2012) Sojourner Truth Show Earth Segment. KPFK Pacifica Radio. Retrieved January 10, 2013 from

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod and the Sojourner Truth show at KPFK Pacifica in Los Angeles for weekly Earth Segments and weekly Earth Minutes.

This week’s Earth Segment features Jihan Gearon, Director of Black Mesa Water Coalition, on a proposed Arizona state law that will have drastic effects on native lands and the region

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(April 9, 2012) IEN Indigenous Rights of Mother Earth Conference. Global Exchange. Retrieved July 3, 2012 from

Global Exchange was honored to be a part of this gathering along with our partners at CELDF, to listen and to learn from Indigenous perspectives on the framework of rights of nature, and to present the work we do with communities confronted by unwanted and dangerous projects to write new laws to recognize legal rights for communities and ecosystems. Under our current system of law, mountaintop removal is legal, fracking is legal, toxic sludge spreading is legal. All of Nature is considered property under the law, for sale to the highest bidder, and corporations are the largest owners? What are we going to do about that? If we want to change our relationship with nature to one of balance, if we want to create vibrant local economies, we have to confront the entire system of law that treats the planet like it’s a “going out of business sale.