Navajo Nation And Los Angeles Partnering on Renewable Electricity

Navajo Solar Power Photo: Katrin Mehler, Cronkite News

Late last year, the Navajo Generating Station coal-fired power plant that for 40 years provided power to the City of Los Angeles closed, but now the city and the tribe are working together to turn the former coal plant into a renewable energy hub to provide wind, solar, and hydro power to the City according to Earther.  This will restore $40 million in revenue that the Tribe lost when the power plant closed and that in turn will help to bring electricity to 15,000 people who live in parts of the Navajo reservation that still do not have it.

Why This Matters:  OK, woah, it is hard to focus on anything but Super Tuesday results!  But, I (Monica) digress.  The Navajo are not alone when it comes to leading on climate change, according to Yale Environment 360, all across the country indigenous communities are stepping up to put in place climate action plans in order to protect their lands and natural resources that a critical to their way of life.  As one Navajo leader who grew up without running water or electricity on the Navajo reservation put it, “Tribes have always been adapting to climate change. Now we have to adapt even faster.”   We should all be thinking that way.

The Navajo Tribe As Renewable Energy Producer

The Navajo tribe would like to build on the Los Angeles energy partnership to strike agreements to supply clean energy to cities in other neighboring states such as New Mexico and Nevada — they are already in discussions with Nevada officials to reach deals that would provide cash to help with the development of the renewable power.  “We want to be able to sell electricity and get that revenue back so we can help our own people get electricity because a lot of our people don’t have electricity,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told Earther.  The City of Los Angeles has a plan to fully transition to renewables by 2045 and this Navajo project will generate 10% of the city’s power, and because the city owns the power transmission lines from the old power plant giving the project a significant advantage to being completed.

Tribes Across the Country Climate Planning

According to Environment 360, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent reports argues that adaptation efforts are better when they include local and indigenous knowledge. “One of the things that comes across really clearly is the fact that indigenous peoples are by far the most effective stewards of biodiversity,” one conservation biologist with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group told Earther, “They do the best job.”  One reason for this is that indigenous peoples own or manage a disproportionate amount of protected areas all across the globe — these groups occupy 28 percent of the planet’s land, but more than 40 percent of protected areas.   In the U.S., more than 50 Tribes have climate action plans, and many tribes are making huge strides on energy independence, weaning themselves off fossil fuels to protect both the environment and their economic future making big investments, like the Navajo, in solar power.

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