Today, in a landmark decision, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to use revenues from the sale of sulfur dioxide allowances from the shut-down Mohave Generating Station (Mohave) to create a revolving fund to pay development deposits for renewable projects that benefit the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation.
Mohave was a1580 megawatt coal-fired power plant that operated in Laughlin, Nevada from 1971 to December 2005. Mohave obtained its coal from the Black Mesa coal mine located on the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe lands. Coal was then transported from the mine to Mohave using valuable water from a deep pristine aquifer that sits beneath Black Mesa region on Navajo and Hopi reservation lands. Mohave’s operation and closure resulted in devastating impacts to the Hopi and Navajo communities including depleted water supply, diminished air quality due to pollution, and economic harm in the form of lost jobs in these delicate tribal economies due to the closure. After Mohave closed, Southern California Edison, which owned a 56% share of the facility, accrued surplus Clean Air Act sulfur dioxide allowances under the Acid Rain Cap and Trade program that were not needed after the plant closed. The issue before the CPUC was how to distribute the revenues from the sale of these surplus allowances in light of the history of Mohave.
The CPUC’s decision today confirms its longstanding concern for the impacts of Mohave on the Hopi and Navajo communities. The revolving fund will assist projects that benefit the Hopi and Navajo communities with SCE’s development deposit obligations under the California renewable portfolio standard (RPS) program.
The Just Transition Coalition applauds the CPUC’s decision as an innovative and important step in the work to transition the Hopi and Navajo communities away from dirty energy production to renewable energy. The decision provides a national model for how communities impacted by the shutdown of coal power plants can transition to a new green economy.
“The CPUC decision creates a renewable energy pathway between California and our tribal nations in Arizona. The Just Transition Coalition’s goal was to provide our tribal nations with the opportunity to provide renewable energy in a way beneficial to Navajo and Hopi communities and California ratepayers. We were successful in carrying out that goal,”stated Wahleah Johns from the Black Mesa Water Coalition.
“Today’s decision affirms the need to offer some opportunity to those who have sacrificed so much for southern Californians to enjoy decades of cheap power,” said Grand Canyon Trust’s Roger Clark. “We are humbled to join Navajo and Hopi leaders in celebrating what at long last is an inkling of environmental justice.”
The Just Transition Coalition is comprised of the Black Mesa Water Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network, To’ NizhoniAni (Navajo-based 501(c)3 meaning “Beautiful Water Speaks”), Sierra Club, and Grand Canyon Trust. Its mission is to restore environmental and economic justice for the Navajo and Hopi people while benefiting California ratepayers with access to electricity generated from clean and renewable energy resources.
The Just Transition Coalition is represented by Sara Steck Myers and Alan Ramo, Deborah Behles, and the student clinicians from the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law. The Environmental Law and Justice Clinic works to improve environmental conditions in low-income communities and communities of color.