The Navajo Nation Energy Policy needs to be passed. That was the message Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly conveyed on October 21 to the Navajo Nation Council during the State of the Navajo Nation fall address. And on Tuesday the Council responded in agreement.
The Navajo Nation Council passed legislation 0276-13, the 2013 Navajo Energy Policy, with a vote of 13 in favor and 6 opposed. Shelly will have 10 calendar days to review the legislation.
“I applaud the Navajo Nation Council for passing the Navajo Nation Energy Policy. This policy was created after many town hall meetings that were held throughout the Navajo Nation. We heard directly from the communities and the Shelly/Jim administration put forth the effort to update the Energy Policy of 1980. We have new energy platforms to consider as we look to the future of Navajo energy. We have the opportunity to purchase a coal mine and attain partial ownership of a power plant, but yet, we must keep a strong grasp on renewable energy sources as well. We have to be more diverse with our energy portfolio in the future and the Energy Policy will help guide us to that future,” President Shelly said.
On Monday, Shelly discussed how the Energy Policy would expand the Nation’s energy portfolio, and based his speech, mostly in Navajo, on a written report he submitted to the Council that was passed 13 in favor and one opposed.
“(The Energy Policy) is a comprehensive document in which we poured nearly three years of work into, in order to set the stage and the future for energy,” the President stated in a written report to the Council.
“With our abundance of resources, both natural and renewable, it makes perfect sense to have a policy to guide us in decades to come. Our partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s two national laboratories has given us direction,” President Shelly wrote.
The report that Shelly cited also talked about the Nation’s future with coal and how it was in clean coal technology such as carbon sequestration and the use of carbon credits that would be acquired through cleaner coal technology.
“We have been advised, with our new direction in clean coal, we will shore carbon credits, which hold a value. We will sell them to other power producing companies in North America as they do their part in coming into compliance,” President Shelly wrote.
When Shelly talked about renewable energy he called it the Nation’s “Destiny.”
“In September, we opened a 45,000 square foot facility in Fort Defiance, the very first solar (panel) manufacturing and assembly plant in Indian country,” Shelly said.
Jobs was a big part of the discussion as well. Among the areas and companies building upon its workforces is Nabeeho Power who is planning to add 400 workers in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Shelly said Paragon Ranch in New Mexico is looking into a solar energy project as well.
Other items on the agenda presented to the Council were the 911 program, data center opening, an update on the former Bennett Freeze area, and the Veterans Trust Fund.
“Our Telecommunication Regulatory Commission will create a way to bring a next generation 911, responsive to emergencies where 911 calls are handled here, and not from far away locations,” Shelly wrote in the report. Shelly also stated that all parties needed have worked together to make the legal changes so that the Navajo Nation can regulate the 911 program.
Shelly addressed his line veto of $3 million legislation for Bennett Freeze development. He said proper plans need to be in place so the funds go directly to the residents of the area.
Shelly talked about the Veteran’s Trust amendments which will be distributed to five agencies to build 15 homes and repair existing homes for Navajo veterans.