Trade desires new pipeline on Navajo land scarred by many years of fossil gasoline extraction

For the final a number of months, one of many nation’s
largest pipeline operators has gone from one native authorities assembly on
the Navajo Nation to a different, outlining plans for what might find yourself
being the nation’s longest hydrogen pipeline. At these conferences,
representatives from Tallgrass Vitality have proven a map indicating the
pipeline would run from Shiprock, New Mexico, in an arc throughout the
northern reaches of the reservation to a spot north of Flagstaff,
Arizona. And in response to studies from others who attended the conferences,
the ultimate vacation spot may very well be Mexico.

Tallgrass Vitality, working by means of a brand new subsidiary known as GreenView,
desires to construct the hydrogen pipeline as a result of the Navajo Nation is
“blessed with a wealth of pure sources” and “We consider they’ve
the precise and accountability to develop and handle these sources,
together with tasks like hydrogen,” says Tallgrass Vice President of
Authorities Affairs Steven Davidson. He says that his firm has been
speaking with the leaders of the Nation for the previous two years, properly
earlier than the native conferences started.

On the opposite facet, Jessica Keetso (Diné) has traveled throughout the
Nation herself for the previous two years, explaining how the manufacturing of
hydrogen from pure gasoline is one more fossil gasoline growth in a
land that has suffered from many years of local weather, environmental and well being
issues caused by power extraction industries, together with oil,
coal, gasoline and uranium. She and her group, Tó Nizhóní Ání
(“Sacred Water Speaks” in Navajo), bridle on the notion of the Nation
as soon as once more changing into a useful resource growth zone for the good thing about
corporations off the reservation.

This pipeline is an emblem of the continuing controversies that already
divide the Navajo Nation — and New Mexico — over fossil gasoline
growth. The latest instance occurred a month in the past when a
ceremony to mark a brand new, historic 10-mile buffer
banning new oil and gasoline leasing for 20 years round Chaco Tradition
Nationwide Historic Park was thwarted and diverted after protesters blocked roads into the park, demanding that fossil gasoline growth proceed.

Davidson downplays any friction, saying that the pipeline mission is
nonetheless in its earliest phases. “We’re approaching our actions in a
manner that’s radically completely different than most different mission proposals on the
Navajo Nation, with earlier engagement and better respect,” he says.
“[We are] asking for permission to conduct ethnographic and cultural
surveys alongside a possible route recognized after discussions with the
Navajo Nation Land Division.”

However within the northern and jap areas of the reservation the place oil
and gasoline growth already takes place, Keetso says the state of affairs is
already unstable.
In a reservation larger than West Virginia, she usually drives for hours
to get to chapter home conferences. (Chapter homes are a type of native
Navajo authorities just like metropolis councils.) “I stroll out of these
conferences and I’ve to test my tires,” she says. “I’m form of on
everybody’s shit record on the Navajo Nation on the federal government degree,” she

On the Navajo Nation, local weather change and fossil gasoline growth aren’t psychological workout routines. “It’s actual for us,” she says.

*   *   *

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spearheaded
the initiative to lure potential hydrogen producers to the 4
Corners and — by extension — the Navajo Nation. The Western Interstate
Hydrogen Hub (WISHH)
proposal is designed to land $1.25 billion in federal funds to create a
community of hydrogen producing and utilizing industries linking New Mexico,
Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, and jumpstart a brand new financial system across the
power supply in these states. The federal authorities will fund as much as 10 such tasks,
no less than certainly one of which is able to make hydrogen from fossil fuels, like
pure gasoline. And the 4 states in WISHH all have pure gasoline deposits —
together with within the San Juan Basin, which lies primarily in New Mexico.
Tallgrass is a member of the WISHH mission, too, with plans to reopen
the mothballed Escalante coal-fired energy plant in Prewitt, New Mexico, and convert it to run on hydrogen.

However hydrogen from pure gasoline has 4 large environmental hurdles:
climate-warming methane leaks within the gasoline manufacturing chain; gasoline
manufacturing leaves bodily scars and industrial air pollution; hydrogen is
itself a local weather warming gasoline
when it escapes to the ambiance; and there’s a necessity for large
underground geological reservoirs to retailer the CO2 that outcomes from the
gas-to-hydrogen manufacturing course of. Traditionally, New Mexico has not
been capable of police its methane leaks
and deserted wells, regardless of latest guidelines mandating that this be carried out.
However a $21 million, three-year mission at New Mexico Tech to discover a
appropriate CO2 sequestration location for a coal-fired energy plant
not too long ago wrapped up with a brand new accomplice — Tallgrass’ Escalante hydrogen
energy plant. Robert Balch, director of the Petroleum Restoration Analysis
Middle at New Mexico Tech, says the situation search succeeded and an
utility to drill a sequestration properly has been submitted to the EPA,
a course of he says ought to take two to 3 years.

But the Tallgrass-GreenView pipeline is just not a part of the WISHH
mission. In actual fact, Davidson confirmed that the hydrogen pipeline’s
proposed route follows an current pure gasoline pipeline right-of-way operated by the Navajo Nation
itself, which runs greater than 200 miles from Blanco, New Mexico, to a
spot close to Cameron, Arizona — away from the 4 Corners and the WISHH
partnership. Keetso says {that a} Tallgrass consultant who spoke to
the Coalmine Canyon Chapter Home mentioned the vacation spot is in Mexico.
When requested particularly in regards to the pipeline’s vacation spot, Davidson
as an alternative answered, “The design would permit it to be simply as operationally
possible to ship hydrogen … into the 4 Corners area.” In accordance
to him, Tallgrass-GreenView has been speaking with the Navajo Nation
about power tasks since 2021 — properly earlier than the WISHH proposal.
“Throughout two Navajo Presidential Govt Administrations and two
completely different legislative our bodies … we have now heard the identical name,” he says:
Deliver cash and jobs to the reservation within the wake of two coal energy
vegetation shuttering. This additionally started earlier than native chapter homes heard
in regards to the concept of a pipeline. (Repeated requests for remark despatched by way of
cellphone and e mail to the Navajo Nation Council communications employees went

During the last two months, Davidson says GreenView has unfold its message to native communities by means of the newly shaped 4 Corners Clear Vitality Alliance
“to assist present training throughout the area.” Tallgrass is educating
on the federal degree as properly. In Might, in response to federal lobbyist
registration paperwork, Tallgrass Vitality employed HBW Sources to foyer on
its behalf in Congress. In its first quarterly report a couple of days later,
HBW wrote that it had lobbied the Division of Inside about power
infrastructure. Inside has 11 completely different companies beneath its wings, and
the primary two listed
on its web site take care of Native American affairs. Third is the Bureau
of Land Administration, which manages a whole bunch of oil and gasoline leases on the
Navajo Nation.

Matthew Gonzales wears many hats: He’s the mayor of tiny Cimarron,
New Mexico; he’s the Southwest government director for the Client
Vitality Alliance, a public relations and lobbying group that lists a
who’s who of fossil gasoline producers as members; and he’s the Southwest
state affairs director for HBW Sources, Tallgrass’ new lobbying agency.
Not too long ago, by means of HBW, he started working with the 4 Corners Clear
Vitality Alliance, which Gonzales says is the creation of Mark Freeland, a
former Navajo Nation Council delegate.

The 2 have traveled throughout the Navajo Nation, internet hosting conferences and
talking to chapter homes about the advantages of hydrogen manufacturing.
“We’ve bought to coach these individuals in order that they’ll get unbiased
info, and so they could make a dedication on what’s greatest for
them,” Gonzales says of the brand new group’s work. At a gathering about
hydrogen on the Nenahnezad Chapter Home close to Farmington, New Mexico, on
Might 30, presenters from a neighborhood Navajo farming initiative and state
analysis faculties went into element about utilizing and growing hydrogen.
Freeland’s presentation consisted of offering his title and cellphone quantity
and including that if there have been any questions, individuals might name him. He
didn’t reply to repeated requires this story.

Gonzales says numerous the 4 Corners Clear Vitality Alliance’s work
is countering the efforts of environmental teams. “There’s numerous
so-called environmentalists on the market, and so they’re not that. They’re
hardly environmentalists. They declare that they care in regards to the
atmosphere, or they declare that they care about disenfranchised
communities. The stuff that they advocate for does nothing however damage
these communities,” he says.

“So I’m simply sick and uninterested in seeing environmental activists are available in
and discover one native who they’ll pay a paycheck to. And so they’re keen
to throw their very own group beneath the bus,” he says.

*   *   *

Again on Might 30, Keetso adopted Freeland on the
Nenahnezad Chapter Home assembly. Telling the viewers of her diploma in
environmental science from Northern Arizona College, she mentioned, “So
I’m not simply an environmentalist — I even have a level in what I’m
speaking about.” She famous that inexperienced hydrogen, comprised of water and
renewable power, is problematic in a desert panorama just like the Navajo
Nation the place water is scarce. She informed the viewers how so-called blue
and grey hydrogen are each derived from fossil fuels, and that New Mexico has a awful observe file
of policing spills and greenhouse gasoline emissions from the oil and gasoline
trade. It’s no secret that previously decade, oil and gasoline companies have
deserted the detritus of a century’s price of oil and gasoline booms on the
Navajo Nation. Entire fields of outdated, low- or no-production wells are
left to rust and leak oil into waterways and methane, a potent local weather
warming gasoline, into the sky.

Davidson says that any hydrogen carried by the pipeline must meet the federal definition of fresh hydrogen,
which limits the quantity of carbon emitted within the manufacturing course of.
Additionally, “We anticipate renewable-based clear hydrogen to be prominently
represented,” he says. One other chance can be so-called inexperienced
hydrogen, which is comprised of water that’s zapped with big quantities of
renewably generated electrical energy. It emits no polluting gases, however in a
desert area just like the Navajo Nation, water is a really treasured useful resource.

Keetso has lived almost her complete life on the Navajo Nation, and Tó
Nizhóní Ání was based 22 years in the past. For greater than two years she has
talked with chapter homes, educating them about hydrogen and asking
them to go resolutions opposing any fossil fuel-based hydrogen
tasks. In late June, Teec Nos Pos Chapter was the newest to take action, 40
votes to at least one. Eight different particular person chapters have carried out so, in addition to
the Japanese Company Council, which represents 31 chapters and covers half
of the Nation’s oil and gasoline producing area.

Across the starting of June, a consultant from Tallgrass spoke
with the Coalmine Canyon Chapter Home in regards to the pipeline proposal,
which might run by means of its land. Keetso spoke with the group later, and
she says that what the group bought from the Tallgrass presentation was
completely different from what Davidson says his firm had hoped for.

“The group thinks that that is only a carried out deal, that they’ll’t
affect it ultimately,” Keetso says. Half the group needed to make
positive that whoever was in the way in which of the pipeline will get compensation, and
the opposite half thought, “That is actually not a good suggestion,” she says.

When informed of this confusion at chapter home displays, Davidson
of Tallgrass says that it’s a miscommunication. “Whereas our early
engagement might trigger some confusion,” he says, “we consider it’s the
proper factor to do and offers a chance for stakeholders to be
true companions within the growth of our tasks.”

Keetso sees this as condescension to a group she lives in — and
she says it’s a well-recognized sample. Tribal members are “made to really feel like
their questions will not be probably the most Western-educated questions … They’re
handled as in the event that they’re not clever,” she says. “That bothers me to no

The arguments will doubtless proceed for the foreseeable future, because the
pipeline allowing course of itself takes years. Nevertheless, for the reason that
pipeline can be co-located on the trail of an current pure gasoline
pipeline owned by the Navajo Nation itself, that course of could also be smoother than some.