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 Environment: Protect Native American Sacred Springs from Destructive coal mining

AnnouncementsNRDC's EARTH ACTION:
The Bulletin for Environmental Activists
January 30, 2007

Special alert:
Speak out to protect Native American sacred springs from destructive coal mining
Comments are due February 6th, so send yours today at: http://www.nrdconline.org/campaign/nrdcaction_013007


The Peabody Western Coal Company has been siphoning precious groundwater away from Hopi and Navajo lands in northeastern Arizona for nearly four decades. NRDC Earth Activists helped successfully shine a light on Peabody's mining violations before, but now the company has requested the Bush administration's permission to extend its massive Black Mesa mining operation even further...

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Since the 1960s, Peabody has pumped billions of gallons of groundwater out of the Navajo aquifer in order to propel pulverized coal through a pipeline to a power plant 270 miles away in Nevada. These enormous water withdrawals -- in one of the most arid regions of the United States -- have depleted and damaged the aquifer, drying up the sacred springs and other water sources that the Hopi and Navajo people rely on for drinking, irrigating crops, making medicines and carrying out spiritual traditions.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining is required to review the environmental impacts of Peabody's proposed mining permit as well as to consider less environmentally harmful alternatives. But the agency scheduled the comment period for this issue (which ends February 6th) to coincide with the Hopis' traditional ceremonial period that bars them from engaging in secular matters such as this, meaning they will not have the opportunity to participate in this decisionmaking process that directly affects their home and their way of life.

== What to do ==

Send a message, before the February 6th comment deadline, urging the Office of Surface Mining to consider less destructive alternatives to Peabody Coal's proposed mining expansion, and to extend the official comment period so that the Hopis can weigh in on this decision that is critical to their future.

== Contact information ==

You can send an official comment directly from NRDC's Earth Action Center at:
(we'll send a copy of your comment to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne). Or use the contact information and sample letter below to send your own message.

Dennis Winterringer, Black Mesa Project EIS
Office of Surface Mining Western Region
P.O. Box 46667
Denver, CO 80201-6667
Email: [email protected]

Secretary Dirk Kempthorne
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
Email: [email protected]

== Sample letter ==

Subject: BMP draft EIS comments

Dear Mr. Winterringer,

I urge you to reject the Peabody Western Coal Company's latest attempt to expand and prolong its massive water withdrawals from the Navajo aquifer in northeastern Arizona. Instead, please help protect the scarce water resources of the Southwest and comply with federal law by analyzing less destructive alternatives to transporting Black Mesa coal.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, your agency is required to review the environmental impacts of the proposed mining permit as well as to consider no-water and electrical-generation alternatives. According to the most recent data, Peabody's water withdrawals have already caused irreparable physical damage to the Navajo aquifer, violating your own "material damage" criteria. As a result, the sacred springs and other natural water sources that the Hopi tribe and the Navajo Nation depend on are drying up.

Also, I ask you to extend the deadline for public comments on this proposal by a minimum of 60 days so that Hopis who are currently observing a traditional ceremonial period that bars them from engaging in secular matters can participate in the decisionmaking process.

I am counting on you to protect the cultural and natural values of the Black Mesa plateau by acknowledging the severe impacts of groundwater mining and requiring a no-water alternative to transport coal.


[Your name and address]


Please also forward this message to your friends and co-workers, and urge them to contact the Office of Surface Mining as well.

Thank you!

About NRDC

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a nonprofit environmental organization with 1.2 million members and online activists, and a staff of scientists, attorneys and environmental experts. Our mission is to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.

For more information about NRDC or how to become a member of NRDC, please contact us at:

Natural Resources Defense Council
40 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011
212-727-4511 (voice) / 212-727-1773 (fax)
Email: [email protected]

Also visit:
BioGems -- Saving Endangered Wild Places
A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council

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