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Navajo groups push back on Little Colorado River hydro energy project

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

A Phoenix firm has proposed building a dam on a tributary of the Little Colorado River for hydroelectric power, but the project has drawn criticism from a northern Arizona tribe.

Pumped Hydro Storage LLC has submitted three proposals to build dams on Navajo Nation land in the Little Colorado River watershed. 

It has withdrawn two of them. But tribal members say they were never consulted about the projects.

A year ago, the nonprofit Save the Confluence, which spearheaded local efforts to block a proposed tramway in the Grand Canyon, gathered 87,000 signatures on petitions opposing the dams. It recently asked the company to cancel its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Last week, 18 Navajo Nation chapter houses submitted resolutions opposed to the project.

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Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.