Navajo Nation Divided Over Coal | Hidden Vote Ep. 2


(soft music) – I’m a member of
the Navajo Nation. Full Navajo. What got my attention was
when President Trump said that he would
support coal mining, and he mentioned the
lives of the coal miners and that’s what we’re
talking about now. – How are you?
– Good. – It is very important to
represent Navajo people in the state office who
comprise almost 50 percent of the plant workers. Trump’s stance on coal
spoke loudly to the miners. They said openly that
they changed their party because they finally
felt someone heard them. I believe President Trump
is taking our country in the right direction. There is a lot going
on throughout the state that needs Navajo
representation. The thinking of a lot
of the legislators stops at the reservation line because, okay, the Navajos
live out there, therefore it’s
federal jurisdiction. Not so, we are still within
the state of New Mexico. It wasn’t until the 1900s that
companies started realizing there was a wealth of coal
under our reservation. At that point, the
Navajo Nation organized; we went into contract
with these companies and the mines started. A huge amount of the Navajo
Nation budget is result of the taxes coming
from these plants, but because the opposition
has determined that renewables are now the trend,
coal has been kicked to the side and San Juan
generating plant is closing. (soft music) If everyone would sit down, we’re gonna go ahead
and get started. The purpose of this meeting
is to get your input in regards to the closing of
San Juan generating plant. Would you share some
of your concerns? – We see the impacts. You’ve got places in
West Virginia that
are now ghost towns. – We are struggling
trying to figure out what the next step is. – We did everything right. We cut the power plants in half and then we cleaned
up the other half, so do we need to turn
ourselves into a ghost town when all we need is some time? – We have a huge
task ahead of us. When Obama was president,
he made it his mission, he came right and said it, that all these plants
were going to close. It’s a good position for
him as an environmentalist, but what about the workers? And that’s who I’m
concerned about. What about the families? – I’m Christina Jane Aspis
and I’m an electrician for the coal mine. I’m full-blooded Navajo. If this power plant and mining
goes away, coal goes away. We’re gonna be poor. We wouldn’t have
a community here. It’s gonna be dead. I voted for Obama
his first term, then the second
term, I couldn’t. Seeing Hillary Clinton say that we’re gonna continue
Obama’s agenda, I was like, she really doesn’t know. When Trump came out and said
he supported coal miners, we were silently happy. I’m still registered a
Democrat, but I voted for Trump. I don’t think there’s a true
Democrat or a true Republican. I think it really comes
down to where you’re at in your community or in life. – I see a lot of despair. I see families who
are living in cars. and I bring this up to the
state, and everyone says, “Aw, that’s too bad,” but
that’s as far as it goes. We have a hearing with the
Public Regulation Commission in Santa Fe, who are going
to be hearing responses to the resource plan
that PNM is presenting, and if they indeed are gonna
be gone within five years, we want PNM to include
a transition plan
for the workforce. Part of your responsibility, and even though it’s not
part of your business sense, is to assume some responsibility
for the community. (indistinct crowd chatter) – So, let’s have a
little bit of order. (speaking in Navajo) Welcome and introductions. Sharon and I, our family,
they grew up together, so Sharon Clahchischilliage,
Janene Yazzie, candidate for New Mexico
Public Regulations Commission. – WeDinéneed new leadership. My name is Janene
Natasha Yazzie. I’m a Democrat and
I’m running for the New Mexico Public
Regulation Commission for District four. I represent a new
generation of leadership that looks at things from not
only a cultural perspective, but also advocating against
the environmental contamination that our communities
have had to deal with, from the uranium, the coal,
and the fracking industries. Vote for me June fifth. Janene Natasha Yazzie. (speaking in Navajo) – The original position
of the environmentalist was very good, where they
wanted the air clean, but then they went
overboard with it. We still have people,
like Navajo people, who are singing the song
of 30, 40 years ago. – Trump’s policies on
relaxing our hard won environmental regulations
are absolutely abhorrent. The tribal nations have been
fighting for generations for these environmental
regulations to be put in place, because we’re dealing
with the direct effects of the contamination
from these industries, and to just have it (snaps
fingers) lifted like that is completely unjust. – I told you I was
Sharon Clahchischilliage, I’m from Ya-Ta-Hey, so
I’m a Navajo. – I don’t know how any native
could in good conscience support this president
that we have. – When the plant closes,
immediately we lose $22 million, because we’re
losing close to 50 percent of our Native American workers. Everyone is advocating about
the air, about the water. I’m not saying that
isn’t important, but we can’t advocate for that if the workers
aren’t working there. Do you get what
I’m talking about? This resolution says, “PNM,
don’t just turn out the lights and send them home.” The workforce have
families to support, they have children to
support, I need your help. If they vote in favor of it, then I take it to the
PRC meeting on Monday to show we have the support
of 33 Navajo Chapters. – [Announcer] All those
in favor, raise your hand. 63 in favor. All those opposed. Zero. Let’s move on to the
next legislation. (chanting) – I’ve prepared testimony
for this hearing. The hope is that PNM
changes their resource plan to include a transition plan. (chanting) – Environmental
degradation is our focus and it just so happens
that we’re having very important meetings
happening in this building about influencing that. – Can I get a show
of hands for people who are giving
public comment today? Okay, great. So you’re our
priority in terms of getting you in the building. – Coal burning still exerts
an insidious effect on health. The worst impact is on children. Burning coal releases
mercury, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides. This is immoral. We’re killing our kids. – We need to consciously
think about what’s happening to mother earth. PNM is still
proposing to exploit and destroy mother earth
with their practices. They haven’t improved at all in how they are
doing dirty business. Oil and gas is pulling up
ancestral fossil fuels, but we can’t even survive, because of the
nuclear environmental racism that’s happening,
and PNM is part of that. – When we talk about dealing
with environmental racism, it’s that our worldview
and perspective is not considered as equal. So take away the corporate
guns being held to our heads, false solutions of coal
and nuclear are not wanted. Our leaders are
not given a choice between their cultural
values and beliefs, and jobs and living wages
for their community, and that’s not a
choice, it’s injustice. – [Sharon] There
is a lot of merit to the environmental thinking; however, there is a very
emotional component. – Please, I beg you. I’m
sorry, but I’m very emotional. – Do you know who the
emotion is coming from? The people who don’t
live in San Juan County. Even the natives who
were here today aren’t from San Juan County, and
they’re stopping to think about who will be
impacted by this. That’s my real concern. – I’m Patrick O’Connell. I’m employed by Public
Service Company of New Mexico. – Is PNM Exhibit two
true and accurate to the best of your knowledge? – [Patrick] Yes. The process of reaching
the stipulated agreement in Case 13-00390-UT
helped design the IRP, where we were looking at
two primary scenarios. – This is very frustrating,
because a tremendous amount of work has gone
into this, when PNM, they have not been
very forthright with us in the information
they’ve been giving us. They’re really not
wanting legislators
participating at all. It goes back to what
they continuously like-
they don’t care for us. The bottom line just proves
that the workers are correct, that no one cares about them. I will continue
advocating for them, because I really
feel it in my soul. It’s a tug at my soul. Not my heart, but my soul. – [Christina] I am
very impressed with Representative Sharon
Clahchischilliage. As a Navajo leader, she’s
considered naat’a’í. That’s what you say in Navajo. She fights and I’m glad. That’s what we need. We need somebody with guts. We need somebody that’s
bold, and common sense. – So, the election
took place and I lost. It was very close. I know my team was
very heartbroken. I think that there’s more
people that are active and aware under the
Trump administration, because we’ve seen
how easy it is to have hard won environmental
regulations, hard won rights just get stripped away. I think there’s been an
end to this assumption that our government’s
gonna protect us. It’s shifted the
narrative to reveal that we need to protect ourselves. – It hurts me to see where
we are right now as a people. I’m trying to get as
much done as I can in my short span
as a legislator, so that I can get the help
that is needed, so needed, on the Navajo reservation
and in my district. (soft music) – I have a very tough dilemma. I need to choose between
a very bad Republican and a good person who
happens to be a Democrat. Who should I vote for?

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Comments

  1. I cant believe there is people out there who give zero fucks about the enviroment, money and jobs are gonna be nothing if we all dead

  2. The mature community in this film don’t understand that their way of “living” is a misinterpretation of survival. We no longer need to survive we just need to live and be truly happy smh the mature woman is concerned about materialistic things and not the environment nor the people smh ???? Greed and selfishness is her mentality her argument should be alongside the environmentalists vs US Federal Gov

  3. The support would have been there….if only they…..started advocating for it during Shelly's term as Navajo Prez.
    I say this because when deswood tome was chief of staff…he had shelly's eyes & ears.

  4. And what about the other people that are not working for the coal mine? What about their health? The environment? As a Navajo public health professional, shut it down.

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