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A Year After Kayenta Mine Closure, Questions Surround Cleanup Process

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva is asking why more hasn’t been done to clean up a coal mining site on the Navajo Nation. 

The Kayenta Coal Mine ceased operations nearly a year ago. But Grijalva says the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has not issued any permits to remediate the site. Grijalva is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and says Navajo and Hopi leadership brought the issue to his attention.

“Coal companies have the responsibility to restore the land where they’ve done the mining. They don’t get to pick and choose when it’s convenient for them. It has to happen because it’s not their land," Grijalva said.

Grijalva says delays cause environmental risk. He’s asking the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to respond by the end of this month to questions about management of the site.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.