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Dooda Submission 4-27-2013

Dooda Submission 4-27-2013

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Published by Marsha Monestersky
DOODA DESERT ROCK to UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights: This submission shows that there are serious issues regarding power generation in the Navajo Nation and the coal mines that feed them. There are controversies over granting a new permit to a power plant in the western portion of the Navajo Nation, the purchase of a coal mine that feeds plants in northwest New Mexico, coal energy in general and corporate influence in the governance of the Navajo Nation. Those are serious human rights issues that the Working Group should note and consider in its findings.
DOODA DESERT ROCK to UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights: This submission shows that there are serious issues regarding power generation in the Navajo Nation and the coal mines that feed them. There are controversies over granting a new permit to a power plant in the western portion of the Navajo Nation, the purchase of a coal mine that feeds plants in northwest New Mexico, coal energy in general and corporate influence in the governance of the Navajo Nation. Those are serious human rights issues that the Working Group should note and consider in its findings.

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Published by: Marsha Monestersky on May 03, 2013
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11/09/2013

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Stakeholder SubmissionDOODA (NO!) DESERT ROCK.A Non-Governmental Organization of Dine` Civil Societyto theUNITED NATIONS WORKING GROUP ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTSUnited States Country Visit, Flagstaff, Arizona27 April 2013
Working Group Mission
The Working Group on the issue of human rights, transnational corporations and other businessenterprises was established on 6 July 2011 by United Nations General Assembly Resolution No.A/HRC/RES/17/4. There are eleven mandates for the Working Group, including country visits,work with non-governmental organizations and representatives of indigenous organizations. Themethods of work, revised on 30 November 2012, include standards for country visits and fieldwork that require a “spirit” of promoting constructive dialogue with States and stakeholdersabout implementing the “Guiding Principlesand eliciting information from stakeholders tomake findings and recommendations that “respond to practical and operational realities on theground” for reports and recommendations to the Human Rights Council and General Assembly.There is recognition within the United Nations that the activities of corporations, and particularlyextractive industry corporations, raise serious concerns about the human rights of indigenousgroups. Aside from events leading up to the General Assembly Resolution that created theWorking Group, the Commission on Human Rights identified the problem of the responsibilitiesof international corporations and human rights in Resolution No. 2005/69 (20 April 2005) as didthe later Human Rights Council in Resolution No. 8/7 (18 June 2008). The United NationsCommittee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination addressed such issues in itsconcluding observations on the reports of the United States of America on the subject of “Elimination of Racial Discrimination.” No. CERD/USA/CO/6 (8 May 2008).CERD identified issues affecting the human rights of indigenous peoples in the United States,including the problem of negative activities involving nuclear testing, toxic and dangerous wastestorage, mining or logging in “areas of spiritual and cultural significance to Native Americans”and the “adverse effects of economic activities connected with the exploitation of naturalresources ... on the right to land, health, living environment and the way of life of indigenous peoples living” (in countries outside the United States).
 Id 
., ¶¶ 29, 30. There was a relatedfinding in ¶ 19 on the United States failure to deal with the situation of the Western Shoshone[Nevada] indigenous peoples and prior Committee action on it, and it is important because theCommittee directed a specific query on that issue that raised the question of whether not theUnited States complies with its international obligations in Indian treaties. The question is therights of indigenous groups to lands that remain under their control under treaties and lands where1
 
such groups retain usufructuary rights, as in the findings in ¶ 29.Dooda Desert Rock and The Forgotten People lobbied the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, the Hon. James Anaya, on extractive industry human rights issues and their attorney met with Mr. Anaya in Tucson to discuss the particular need for attention to the issue of human rights and extractive industry. Mr. Anaya’s 11 July 2011 report to the Human RightsCouncil paid special attention to “Extractive industries operating within or near indigenousterritories.” Report No. A/HRC/18/35 (11 July 2011). It acknowledged the “Protect, Respect andRemedy” framework of principles previously endorsed by the Human Rights Council,
 Id 
. ¶ 25,and identified the principles as a foundation for a preliminary plan of work on the issue of extractive industries and human rights.
 Id 
., ¶¶ 75-76.The General Assembly of the United Nations stressed the fact that “the obligation and the primaryresponsibility to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms lie with the state”and endorsed the General Principles on Business and Human Rights to implement the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework in General Assembly Resolution No.A/HRC/RES/17/4 (6 July 2011), second preamble paragraph and 1. Therefore there areinternational human rights standards that Dooda Desert Rock can utilize in this communication tothe Working Group to guide its conclusions and future reports as the result of its visit to theUnited States of America.
Interest and the Issues of the Commentator
The two primary issues that Dooda Desert Rock wishes to bring to the Working Group’s attentionare harmful extractive industry projects in northwest New Mexico, on and near the Navajo IndianReservation, that are related to coal mining and mine-mouth coal-fired power plants and to theway in which the Navajo Nation is developing an energy policy dictated by extractive industry.Dooda (“No!”) Desert Rock takes its name from a campaign to block the construction of a mine-mouth, coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, near the Four Cornersof New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. That is an area popularly known as the “NationalSacrifice Area” of the United States for the siting of exploitative extractive industry anddangerous/polluting projects — such as uranium mines and coal-fired power plants. The word“dooda” means “no” in Navajo but it can also refer to dangerous situations and beings.The Navajo Nation is going through a period of crisis. It was, for many years, a popular “nationalsacrifice area” for extractive industry — particularly in gas and oil fields in the Four Corners(including Utah) and uranium mining (initially centered in the area near Mount Taylor, outsideGrants, New Mexico and later in the Shiprock and Tuba City areas). Two of the dirtiest power  plans in the United States, the Four Corners Plant and the San Juan Power Plant, are sited on andnear the Navajo Nation close to Shiprock. Scientific studies that show the adverse health impactsof both plants have been ignored.
See,
Joseph E. Bunnel, Linda V. Garcia, Jill M. Furst, HarryLerch, Ricardo A. Olea, Stephen E. Suitt & Allan Kolker,
 Navajo Coal Combustion and  Respiratory Health Near Shiprock, New Mexico
, 2010 J. Environmental & Public Health Art. ID260525 (2010). There are proposals to in situ leach uranium mining in areas of the Navajo Nation2
 
 justice “outside” Navajo lands (i.e. in an area with mixes of different jurisdictions of land tenure).Uranium and other mining waste and pollution from prior extractive industry projects in the Navajo Nation left a legacy of suffering and death. For example, areas in the western part of the Navajo Nation cause radiation sickness from tailings and the ground water is contaminated and poisoned from uranium mining. Coal mining to feed large power plants brought mixed blessingsin terms of some economic benefit, but strains on water resources and dependence on a dirty power source.The Navajo Nation has a lot of poverty and the public corruption that most often accompanies poverty, where rules are relaxed and unfortunate deals are accepted by a ruling elite for its own benefit, but not that of the poor underclass. Corruption spills over to other areas, including leasingfor recreational areas for non-residents, wind energy projects, gambling and other kinds of economic ventures; some of which are bizarre in conception.In December of 2006, Elouise Brown, along with friends and family members, set up a road block on their land near the proposed site of the Desert Rock Power Plant at a place known as ChacoRio on the Navajo Indian Reservation. The venture was a proposed large mine-mouth, coal-fired power plant to be built not far from another large plant, the Four Corners Power Plant, and yetanother plant, the San Juan Power Plant, and close to the power source, a large coal mine owned by an Australian mining company. Brown set up a small protest camp and when a drilling truck  passed by her site she stepped in front of it. The non-Indian driver got scared, ran to complain tohis supervisor and on December 29, 2006 the Sithe Global Power Company of New York Cityfiled an injunction action against Elouise, her organization (Dooda Desert Rock Committee) theDine` C.A.R.E. environmental rights organization and other individuals. It sought injunctiverelief against the organizations from interfering with exploratory drilling operations.
Sithe Global  Power, LLC, Dine` Power Authority & Desert Rock Energy Company, LLC v. Dine` C.A.R.E., Dooda Desert Rock Committee, Elouise Brown, Lori Goodman, Sarah White, Alice Gilmore, Lucy A. Willie, Tito Gutierrez & Others
, No. SR-CV-427-06 (Shiprock District Court of the Navajo Nation).A trial on the injunction was set for January 3, 2007 and it was indefensible, even on free speechgrounds, because it was for a court order against future interference under criminal statutestandards. It was politically-defensible, however, and on New Year’s Day of 2007 the groups’lawyer negotiated a consent decree to conclude the case. In it, the defendants agreed they wouldnot violate certain Navajo Nation criminal statutes that carried no fine or jail time (under criminallaw reforms that decriminalized 65 offenses). Consent Decree,
 Id 
., January 3, 2007. That wasachieved when Dooda’s attorney asked the opposing counsel whether he had heard of whathappened to the Bechtel Corporation in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He had. Indians and supportersrose up and threatened to overthrow the Government of Bolivia over Bechtel’s handling of  privatized water and sharp increases in water rates. When the Government of Bolivia responded by terminating contracts of the consortium that was largely owned by Bechtel, it filed aninternational trade complaint against Bolivia. It was not concluded by an international tribunal because of the public uproar over Bechtel’s excessive actions.The defendants’ attorney said that when he would arrive at court for the trial he would be3

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