Navajo Nation Explores Future Of Coal
By Tristan Ahtone
May 17, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The Navajo Nation says the only financially viable future for its coal supply may be in clean coal technologies and overseas exports. It is taking preliminary steps to find a future for its coal resources in light of tough, domestic regulations.

The Navajo Nation is looking to purchase one of two operational coal mines within its borders, while eyeing considerable coal resources that have yet to be developed. But with issues ranging from greenhouse gases to mercury emissions, coal is currently facing a tough future in the United States.

To make Navajo coal financially viable, President Ben Shelley says other options will have to be explored.

"If we do get a mine, we almost have to have a future for it," Shelley said. "That's my goal here, is that we go into clean coal, gasification, exporting coal, because we're limited to burning coal, so we can't depend on burning it. We've got to find another way of using that coal to benefit us."

Right now, Shelley said he's looking to China as a possible coal purchaser, and learning about coal-to-liquids technology.

The Navajo Nation said it's alos exploring the possibility of building a railroad in New Mexico from Farmington to Thoreau to move coal into major transportation corridors.