SJCA-Four Corners Coal Combustion Waste 8-1-11

Aug 1, 2011
EcoFlight flew with the San Juan Citizens Alliance over coal combustion waste at the Four Corners Power Plant on Navajo Nation land in New Mexico.

Coal mining and combustion at the Four Corners Power Plant and the disposal of tens of millions of tons of coal-combustion waste are putting mercury, selenium and other deadly toxins into the San Juan River.  In January 2011, The San Juan Citizens Alliance, together with The Center for Biological Diversity and Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment sued the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining for failing to protect the San Juan River ecosystem from the impacts of energy development. The lawsuit was prompted by a draft biological study by the US Fish and Wildlife Service that shows that 64 percent of the endangered Colorado pike minnow in the San Juan currently exceed mercury contamination thresholds and that high levels of selenium are impairing growth, reproduction and survival in 40 percent of razorback sucker offspring. In September 2010, the Office of Surface Mining issued an operating permit to BHP Billiton’s Navajo Coal Mine, which supplies coal to the Four Corners Power Plant. It did so without complying with the Endangered Species Act by consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that threatened and endangered species would not be further imperiled.