Peabody CEO: 'Black Is The New Green' - SMSC Opens Seasonal Compost Site: Another Shade of Green
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – Peabody Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregory H. Boyce testified Wednesday before a federal committee that carbon technologies now under development are changing the color of coal, placing the nation on a path to achieve the ultimate green goal of near-zero emissions.
“Black is the new green,” Boyce told the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, chaired by Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.
Boyce, along with Steven F. Leer of Arch Coal Co., and Preston Chiaro of Rio Tinto went to Capitol Hill to answer questions on their positions on climate change, clean energy policy, and challenges facing their industry.
“Just as our national energy policy is at a crossroads, so, too, is the coal industry,” said Markey. “I believe Congress requires answers from the coal industry on their ability to be a part of our clean energy future.”
Boyce said Peabody shipped nearly a quarter billion tons of coal to customers in 23 countries on six continents last year – “nearly 75 pounds of coal for every man, woman and child in the world.” Peabody delivered the second best results in the company's history in 2009. Revenue totaled $6.01 billion on sales of 243.6 million tons.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has issued a call to accelerate global development of carbon capture and storage, or CCS, technologies with the goal of broad deployment in as little as eight to 10 years, and the Obama administration has charged a new Clean Coal Task Force of federal agencies with breaking down barriers to developing as many as 10 commercial demonstrations of CCS as quickly as 2016, Boyce said.
“The world has ample room for carbon storage. In the United States, for instance, we could sequester CO2 for the next century and wouldn’t even use up 10 percent of the potential geology that’s suitable for storage, based on an analysis by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory,” he said.
Boyce did not mention the Navajo Nation or Peabody's failure to get a 10-year reopener agreement approved for the Black Mesa and Kayenta mines. Nor did he mention Black Mesa residents' lack of drinking water and electricity in his argument to the committee, focusing instead on China, India and Haiti.
Boyce told the committee that everyone in the room is a member of the so-called “golden billion,” enjoying a standard of living the rest of the world can only dream about. More than half the world’s population, or 3.6 billion people, lack adequate access to electricity, he said. Of that total, 1.6 billion – more than five times the population in the United States – have no electricity at all.
“They seek power for the most basic needs: clean drinking water, light and warmth. Coal is the only energy source with the scale and low cost to alleviate energy poverty.
“I urge the committee to look beyond the government halls where caps and carbon are under debate, and enter the huts of the hundreds of millions of people who live in poverty – the people who daily walk miles to gather firewood and waste to burn for the most basic of energy forms.”
Citing Haiti specifically, Boyce said, “Bringing those families out of severe and direct poverty-driven environmental harm must be priority number one, and electrification through large-scale coal generation is that solution.”
Meanwhile, on the Navajo Nation where unemployment hovers around 50 percent, Black Mesa residents mounted up Thursday for a five-day ride to Window Rock, where they hope to send a message to the Navajo Nation Council that the future of Black Mesa should be fully considered in current coal royalty “reopener” negotiations with Peabody.
“If the leaders who are negotiating on behalf of our water and homelands cannot come to our communities to explain to us what they are deciding, then we will come to them,” said Marshall Johnson of Tonizhoni Ani. Council kicks off its spring session April 19, when protesters will ride into Window Rock to greet them.
Residents have expressed increased concerns over the exclusion of community input regarding current coal royalty negotiations and have held community meetings to discuss the health of Black Mesa, a sacred mountain to Navajos known as Tadidiin Dzil or “corn pollen mountain.”
Peabody employees also met recently with the Resources Committee and voiced concerns that the company is not adhering to Navajo Preference, does not respecting cultural beliefs, and is not complying with environmental laws.
According to the lease agreement, the 1987 amendments provide for a reopener to negotiate increased royalty rates and royalty-tax caps for each successive 10-year period after 1987. The coal royalty rate for the Kayenta Mine is 12.5 percent, set in 1977, and 6.25 percent for the Navajo-Hopi Joint Use Area.
In 1993, the Navajo Nation initiated a lawsuit against the federal government for $600 million in damages from decades of below-market royalty rates. In April 2009, after years of conflicting decisions and appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Navajo Nation.
“For 14 years, the official position of the Navajo Nation was that it deserved at least a 20.5 percent royalty rate. Now, Navajo Nation leaders are trying to ram through another 10-year agreement with Peabody at the 12.5 percent rates,” said Nicole Horseherder of Tonizhoni Ani. “If the Navajo Nation is really concerned about economic prosperity, why are they negotiating at rock bottom rates?”
On April 1, Council held a work session on the reopener. Presenters included Peabody, United Mine Workers, the Division of Natural Resources and Black Mesa United.
“It's unfortunate that the reopener work session only had one group representing the views of some Black Mesa residents but excluded hundreds of voices of community members who are concerned about Peabody's coal mining operations and how it has impacted them,” said Marie Gladue of Voices of the People. “We need to be at the table because we are the ones who have to live with these consequences.”
Peabody's Boyce said coal advances energy security and provides low-cost electricity that powers the economy and helps people live longer and better.
“The real question isn’t: 'Will we use coal?' The U.S. has more coal than any other nation on Earth. We have hundreds of billions of tons of coal in the United States and trillions of tons of coal in the world. And we will use it all.
“The real question is: 'What is the proper path to move to what the presidents of China and the United States last year called '21st Century Coal'? That path is technology first ... deployment requirements second ... as we work together to accelerate the movement to green coal,” he said.
SMSC OPENS SEASONAL COMPOST SITE
Open to City of Prior Lake Residents Two Saturdays a Month
by Tessa Lehto
Prior Lake, MN – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is again opening its compost site to residents of the City of Prior Lake beginning May 8, 2010 and continuing every second and fourth Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Depending on weather and demand, it is expected to remain open through October 2010. In 2009, residents dropped off an average of 30 loads per day at the site.
In a unique collaboration, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community compost site was opened for joint use by residents of neighboring Prior Lake starting in May 2008 at no charge. In exchange the SMSC is able to use the City of Prior Lake’s tree range to grow native trees and shrubs for planting on the reservation. The SMSC also provided approximately 90 yards of compost to the City of Prior Lake at no cost in 2009.
The site accepts leaves, brush, grass clippings, sod, and other yard waste for organic recycling. The site does not accept root wads, tree stumps, and branches larger than eight inches in diameter, building lumber, soil, or compost materials in plastic bags of any type.
Staff from the SMSC and the City of Prior Lake operate the site, which is located just west of the corner of County Road 42 and County Road 83 in Prior Lake.
“We all need a place to put our leaves and since we have the space and the resources to develop this compost site, we thought, ‘Why not open it up to others?’” said SMSC Chairman Stanley R. Crooks. “The native trees and shrubs which we will be able to plant as a result will grow and flourish here on the reservation for many years to come. We fully appreciate the good working relationship we have with the City of Prior Lake.”
Collecting brush and leaves is something the Community has done for years. Only in recent years, though, has the Community become active in the composting process. The Community manages its own greenhouses and landscaping which generate tons of materials suitable for recycling. Grass clippings from The Meadows at Mystic Lake and landscaping materials like annuals from the Community’s Gaming Enterprise (Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino), make up a bulk of the materials for composting.
As a steward of the land, the SMSC engages in a number of restoration activities to preserve and protect the land for future generations. For more information, visit www.shakopeedakota.org.
Prior Lake residents should contact City of Prior Lake staff members Danette Parr at (952) 447-9813 or Al Friedges at (952) 447-9892 with any questions. Other questions should be directed to the SMSC Land and Natural Resources Department at 952-496-6153.
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