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Opponents Celebrate as Clock Runs Out on Desert Rock Tax Credits

March 19, 2007

Opponents of a new coal plant near Farmington celebrated as the final buzzer sounded on the state's legislative session. The clock ran out on a pair of bills that would have given tax credits to energy company Sithe Global to build the new power plant in an area already heavily polluted by two other major coal plants. Mike Eisenfeld with the San Juan Citizens Alliance says the bills died in committee because lawmakers felt pressure from citizens to look at the big picture.

"I really don't think that the New Mexico legislature bought into Sithe and the Navajo Nation's attempt to disjoint the tax problem and the environmental issues."

The plant, which would be located on Navajo lands, was approved by the Navajo Nation Council, and Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley says it would bring a much-needed economic boost to the area. A group of Navajos who live in the area opposed the bills. They and the Citizens Alliance say the region already has a high rate of respiratory illness and cannot afford any more pollution. Eisenfeld believes too many questions remain unanswered about the impacts the plant would have on the Four Corners Region.

"You know, where are all the workers going to live, what about the CO2 emissions, the mercury missions, impacts on local citizens who are very much against the power plant."

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM