Confronting Big Issues in the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo nation is experiencing, in microcosm, broader national problems in transitioning to cleaner energy: from confronting the very real health and environmental effects of pollution to the prospect of shifting from a stable, carbon-based economy to a less certain one that relies on nascent solar- and wind-energy industries. The only difference is that the shift to renewable energy and environmental protection and away from coal -- a big source of jobs and energy for the nation -- is actually a political issue in Navajo elections this year, according to a report in The New York Times:

“At some point we have to wean ourselves,” Earl Tulley, a Navajo housing official, said of coal as he sat on the dirt floor of his family’s hogan, a traditional circular dwelling.

Mr. Tulley, who is running for vice president of the Navajo Nation in the Nov. 2 election, represents a growing movement among Navajos that embraces environmental healing and greater reliance on the sun and wind, abundant resources on a 17 million-acre reservation spanning Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

These are tough issues to grapple with, but they must be grappled with. Which isn't something I'm seeing on the national level right now.

-- Monica Potts

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