Navajo Groups to Sue Peabody Energy Over Mine Reclamation

Feb 15, 2019

Advocacy groups on the Navajo Nation have filed an intent to sue Peabody Energy. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, they say the company is trying to avoid paying millions for environmental reclamation of a coal mine set to close later this year.

A dragline bucket in action at the Kayenta Mine in 2017.
Credit Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic

The Peabody-owned Kayenta Mine on the Navajo Nation provides coal to the Navajo Generating Station. Both are slated to close in December unless a buyer can be found.

The Black Mesa Water Coalition and two other groups say Peabody failed to notify the Office of Surface Mining about the impending closure. The federal bureau authorized the mine’s operating permit through July 2020. According to the groups, it’s an attempt by the company to sidestep paying the hundreds of millions of dollars legally required to reclaim the site after the mine closes.

A Peabody spokesperson says the company is working with the Navajo Nation in its attempt to purchase the Kayenta Mine and the power plant. According to the company all lands near the mine will eventually be restored for livestock grazing, wildlife habitat and cultural plant use.