The Navajo Green Economy Coalition. Photo by Wahleah Johns.
The Native American Navajo Nation is making a major switch from fossil fuel to green energy, fast. The "Peabody Energy" company employed most of the Navajo Nation through coal mining. Coal is the main source of Navajo reservation electricity. Coal was mined, and sent to the Peabody power plant through water aquifers in the form of a coal/water mixture. As of 2005, water resources were depleted, and Peabody was looking into using local drinking water to move the coal. Protest mounted, and the 2005 Clean Air Act lawsuit shut down the mining operations at the Black Mesa mine. Unemployment has been high since then.
Black Mesa coal slurry pipeline
The Navajo Nation passes the Green Jobs Act in 2009. Through the newely established Navajo Green Economy Commission and Fund, federal and local fund are being used to create green jobs, sponsor green projects, and make jobs for the youth. This marks the first Native American nation to pass such a law, and the first to step into the green industry.
Also released was a guideline for creating green businesses on the reservation, including business plans. Although they toolkit is fairly simple, it is sure to grow in complexity over time. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.
Coal fun fact : The USA possesses the biggest coal reserves in the world. Which amounts to over 1/4 of the planet's coal.