Adella Begaye: Navajo Nation deals with power plant pollution

"Some hardships in life can be met through strong will and hard work. As a Navajo, I think of the many thousands of families on our reservation in New Mexico and Arizona who’ve long lived without access to electricity service or running water, and still do.

But now there’s a very different kind of hardship facing families in our region: increasing numbers of children and elders suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems.

I first started working in health care on the Navajo reservation 40 years ago, as an interpreter helping residents communicate with health workers. Back then, asthma and respiratory illnesses were not common. That was before what we call the “big stoves,” the coal-burning power plants, had been with us for too long.

Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington, New Mexico, started up in the mid-1960s. San Juan Generating Station began operating nearby in 1973, and Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona started burning coal a year after that. Today, we count four decades that contaminants from these three big coal plants have been pouring into the air in our region."

Get the Story:
Adella Begaye: 40 Years of Coal-Burning Power Plants on Navajo Land (Indian Country Today 4/27)

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