Pollution, Air Quality, and Illegal Dumping: Adaptation Plan - Goals and Adaptation Strategies

These are the goals and adaptation strategies demanded through the community workshops used to develop the Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Navajo Nation.

Create Re-usable Energy on the Navajo Nation

With the Navajo Nation not being well established in renewable energy, there is a need to conduct studies to establish areas to build solar and wind turbine farms across the reservation. Wind and solar are staples in getting communities into the realm of renewable energy. As of 2020, there is one solar farm located on the Navajo Nation and it is claimed to power 18,000 homes with the 27.3 megawatts generated from the farm.

Establish Landfill Centers on the Navajo Nation

Since there are no large scale landfill centers on the Navajo Nation, there is an ever-increasing need to build waste disposal centers to the standards of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). First, before constructing said disposal sites, studies on soil quality need to be conducted at potential locations. Along with waste disposal sites, community members expressed a desire to have designated carcass disposal areas. Of course all of this needs to be done after given consent from the authorities and appropriate withdrawal of land.

Establish Recycling Centers

Organize a campaign to establish a recycling center by getting all of the Navajo Nation members on board. Start by surveying the potential locations and acquiring land able to meet all requirements. This will allow us to establish a U.S. EPA certified facility. This recycling center will hopefully be built next to the future waste disposal center(s). This recycling center should operate with designated personnel in order to be self-sustaining and independent. In order to help these facilities maintain productivity, relationships with reliable buyers for all recycled material is essential. Community members communicated that there should be education presentations offered to communities, schools, divisions, departments, and businesses on the purpose and benefits of recycling. Finally, contracting green driven companies for Navajo Nation needs was also a recommended.

Develop a Policy to Reduce and Eliminate Trash Burning

Partner up with Navajo Nation to reduce and eventually reduce illegal burning. Education provided to the public about this particular policy and health effects caused by illegal burns is a primary goal. With the more strict enforcement, education should also be brought to the schools and community events. One way to help make sure that people follow the guidelines would be better at fining violators. The ultimate goal of zero hazardous/unnecessary burns on the Navajo Nation requires an individual shift in mentality as well. Therefore, we highly encourage to properly dispose of waste at your nearest waste disposal facility so that we can walk in beauty and pass down a healthier land.

Establish Education Programs on the Effects of Pollution, Air Quality, and Illegal Dumping

A new idea that community members developed was the idea of distributing informational booklets to homesite lease applicants about burning policies and require applicants to sign an acknowledgement of understanding. This document can thus be utilized as a backing to further justify and have the public accountable for illegal burns. Although applicants will be informed, they will only be responsible for one acre of land.

Land and Water Quality

One of the biggest concerns that have affected Navajo communities for years is uranium contamination throughout our water, land, and air. Community members expressed the concern to continue the uranium waste clean-up and create toxic waste depositories to remove from the Navajo Nation. Compliance with standards from the U.S. EPA is essential. Also, report all operations to the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.

Compliance with Environmental Standards

In order to enforce these environmental rules and regulations, more funding and training need to be funneled towards the Navajo Nation EPA's Criminal Enforcement Department as they are undermanned and underfunded. Cooperation with the U.S. EPA is also very important to visualize our goals in restoring the health of our lands.

Carbon Tax on the Navajo Nation

Carbon taxing on the Navajo Nation is a relatively new idea that aims to discourage/eliminate the excessive emissions of greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2). This would require the implementation of community meetings in order to educate the public on carbon taxes. After establishing a carbon tax, the next step would be to develop an emission testing station.

Regulate Transporting Hazardous and Toxic Materials on the Navajo Nation

In order to control the transportation of hazardous and toxic material on the Navajo Nation community members suggested the route of lobbying against the transportation of said materials. Lobbying would establish laws and regulation to ensure the safety and health of Navajo communities near heavily used roadways. This would inevitably discourage companies from transporting hazardous and toxic materials through the Navajo Nation. If these transporting companies were to carry through with transporting the waste, toll stations were advised implemented. Toll stations would serve as way to allow funding to be invested back into the hazardous and toxic material transportation system.

Establish an Airspace Initiative

Community members expressed concern for air quality on the Navajo Nation, and they concluded with the idea of consulting with air quality professionals whom are experienced in the related field. Possibly stress the importance of working with professionals that have experience working with tribes and their different air quality programs. The community leaders' workshops also stressed the importance of preventing contamination across large areas during air transportation. This project would need the help of the Navajo Nation EPA and U.S. EPA. Additionally, community members suggested that this program should also educate the public on the topic of airspace initiatives and federal communications, which ultimately controls all air space.

Establish natural Gas Lines

The workshops also recommended the idea of taking full advantage of partially implemented natural gas lines on the Navajo Nation. Border towns seem to be taking advantage of the gas lines in place. Natural gas lines need to run across the entire reservation, since natural gas lines have a right-of-way and lines can be tapped into for easier access.

Fracking, and Chemical Injection

Finally, there was a concern around fracking and chemical injection occurring on and near the reservation. In recent years, Navajo communities are witnessing an increase in fracking near their homes and livestock. Therefore, the workshop participants voted to conduct more environmental impact studies on the potential environmental dangers. Oppose “chemical injection” under the General Leasing Act and enforce the No Drill Act of 1997. With every program suggested, education is key, and the community members want to see education in local schools on fracking and its dangers.

Important Notifications: