Bush White House Grants Mining on Native Lands

Black Mesa in Arizona, a sacred place to Navajo and Hopi tribes, has been strip-mined by Peabody Coal.© Northern Arizona University

Last week, in the waning days of the Bush White House, officials from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) granted a controversial permit to expand mining operations on Native American lands in northern Arizona—despite fierce opposition from the Navajo and Hopi tribes who call the area home. The tribes and other concerned parties are calling into question the validity of the permit issuance to Peabody Coal, citing a lack of adequate time for public comment and insufficient environmental review.

"We are looking into our options for how to stop this process from moving forward, including legal action," said Enei Begaye, Co-Director of Black Mesa Water Coalition, a Navajo and Hopi citizens" group. "The permitting process was flawed and clearly rushed through before President Bush leaves office," he added. The group has vowed to stop Peabody from causing further harm at Black Mesa, which is regarded by Native Americans as sacred land.

This recent decision—announced on a Friday evening before a holiday break—is one of several controversial last-minute calls by the Bush administration which don’t bode well for the president’s environmental legacy. While the Obama administration can roll back some of these decisions, its focus may be on more pressing timely issues, such as steadying the U.S. economy.

Source: Black Mesa Water Coalition