O'Halleran Introduces Legislation to Support Communities, Tribes Affected by NGS Closure

September 12, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the Providing Recovery Opportunities and Mitigating the Industry’s Shifting Economics (PROMISE) Act, legislation that would provide economic development resources to communities affected by the closure of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) and the Kayenta Mine and establish job and skills training programs for displaced employees. The legislation is cosponsored by Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), and Greg Stanton (AZ-09). 

“Since I was sworn into Congress in 2017, I have worked with tribal leadership and local and state stakeholder groups to identify an all-of-the-above approach that promotes rural economic development and supports hardworking Arizonans as the future of NGS is decided,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Now that closure of the plant is moving forward, I have introduced legislation to address the challenges that many families and communities are already facing as a result of the decommissioning process.”

O’Halleran’s PROMISE Act would:

  • direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a land reuse study to determine the next best use for the former generating station property and for similar facilities in the future;
  • authorize the Secretary of the Interior to leverage federal funds from outside the Department if the closure of a federally-owned generating facility is found to have an adverse economic impact on the community in question;
  • establish a pilot program that provides skills training and education programs for displaced workers who are impacted by ongoing market changes in the energy sector;
  • implement a revenue replacement program for the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe, and affected local governments;
  • instruct the Secretary of the Interior to disperse secured federal economic development funds to local, state, and tribal governments, and implement a program to do so for similar facilities in the future.

“For many years, NGS has provided quality, good paying jobs to Navajo and Hopi workers, and has bolstered the economy of Page and a large portion of Coconino and Navajo counties,” continued O’Halleran. “If we hope to provide concrete support to our rural and tribal communities, we must continue to work to identify opportunities that do the same. My bill is a crucial component in assisting northern Arizona communities and local governments with this coming transition and respecting tribal sovereignty in the process.”

Rep. O’Halleran’s PROMISE Act has received support from the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe, as well as Coconino and Navajo counties.

"In light of the closing of the Navajo Generating Station, the Navajo Nation thanks Rep. Tom O'Halleran for introducing the Providing Recovery Opportunities & Mitigating Industry's Shifting Economics (PROMISE) Act. This bill will create programs and provide grants to tribes to assist in community adjustment and economic diversification planning, as well as provide funding due to lost revenue. The bill will also offer programs for training our workers who were impacted by the NGS closure. We look forward to working with Congress and this Administration on providing a future for our Navajo Nation and our workers as we transition our economy and help our workers succeed." – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez

“The premature closure of the Navajo Generating Station will have a devastating impact on the Hopi Tribe’s economy as it provides over 80 percent of our operating budget.  The federal government cannot act to shut down this vital regional economic driver, that it owns, without taking steps to protect the local communities. The Tribe applauds Representative O’Halleran’s introduction of the PROMISE Act, which acknowledges the federal government’s role in this situation and helps the local governments weather this storm.  We look forward to working with Mr. O’Halleran, our allies in Congress, and the Administration to move the bill forward.” – Hopi Chairman Timothy L. Nuvangyaoma

“This legislation recognizes the impact of the closure of the federally-owned Navajo Generating Station in northern Arizona and the Navajo Nation is immense from population loss in our communities as jobs leave to the incalculable financial loss we will feel without one of our largest employers. As we work to move forward, this bill recognizes that the federal government has a responsibility to help transition our economy for all people in the region and hold our communities together. Coconino County is proud to support this legislation and all efforts that are aimed at preserving our way of life in the coming new economy.” – Supervisor Lena Fowler, Chairwoman, Coconino County Board of Supervisors

“We are extremely grateful to the Congressman for his efforts in sponsoring this PROMISE Act. The closure of the NGS Power Plant and Peabody Coal mine in Kayenta will cause devastating economic impacts to the communities and families that rely on these industries for their livelihood.  Through Congressman O’Halleran’s efforts, this bill would provide resources to allow these communities to transition to a new economy and will be a significant benefit to Navajo County and our entire region.” – Dawnafe Whitesinger, Chairwoman, Navajo County Board of Supervisors

Click here to read the full bill text.

BACKGROUND:

The Navajo Generating Station (NGS) is a coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. For decades, NGS has provided power and water to stakeholders across the state, as well as jobs for many living on Navajo and Hopi lands and within the community of Page. NGS is owned in part by the Salt River Project, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Public Service, NV Energy, and Tucson Electric Power. After recent, poor economic performance and competition from market penetration and affordability of other energy sources, NGS is slated to close at the end of 2019, displacing many workers and creating an economic void for key communities across rural Arizona.

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