A path paved in coal

A path paved in coal

Navajo Nation looks to old energy to break from past
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A path paved in coal

Cindy Dixon speaks about her health issues she attributes to living just 1,443 yards from the Navajo Mine. Irritated eyes and respiratory issues are among the problems she describes. The fine particles produced by coal-fired power plants worsen asthma and bronchitis, according to the American Lung Association.
The property of John Lowe sits in the foreground as a dragline excavator moves dirt in the Lowe Pit of Navajo Mine. Navajo Nation is in negotiations to buy the mine from BHP Billiton in 2016 when BHP’s lease ends. Critics say the mine is not viable and worry that tribal corruption could hinder the mine from producing revenue.
A layer of haze rises west of the Four Corners Power Plant. The Navajo Mine supplies the power plant with about 8 million tons of coal a year. The main stakeholder of the plant is decommissioning the three oldest generating units rather than install new equipment to meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements.
BHP Billiton spokesman Norman Benally steps down from one of the smaller buckets used at Navajo Mine. The buckets are attached to dragline excavators and used to drag dirt out of the mine, revealing coal for bulldozers to grab. A smaller bucket can hold 55 cubic yards of dirt, while a larger one can hold 130 cubic yards.
While loaders fill trucks with as much as 220 tons of coal in the background, a bucket attached to a dragline excavator moves dirt from atop the coal seam in what is called the Dixon Pit at Navajo Mine.
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At what cost comes coal?

Navajo Nation wants coal to once again be king.

Its pending purchase of the Navajo Mine from BHP Billiton is the trumpet that would herald coal's return.

But some Navajo tribe members worry king coal won't be a benevolent ruler. They

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