October 27, 2009

Avoiding energy colonization

Rethinking Green Jobs on the Rez

By Kari LydersenAt the Indigenous Uranium Forum in Acoma, New Mexico Oct. 22-24, tribal members sounded a cautionary note about the optimism over renewable energy on Native land. The forum focused on the heavy and ongoing health toll–countless cases of cancer and kidney disease–wrought by decades of mining uranium on Native land, often by Native American miners.

If tribes aren’t vigilant and proactive, they worry, large-scale corporate renewable energy generation on their land could leave them feeling used and exploited and suffering health or environmental effects just like fossil fuels and uranium have in the past.

“Just like in Saudi Arabia, companies will want that power,” said Indigenous Environmental Network organizer Jihan Gearon. “They can still exploit us for wind and solar. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen. We need to rethink the whole concept of a green economy and who benefits.”
And:“The communities and tribes that have the vision and leadership right now will be the real beneficiaries in this century as we move toward a new energy economy,” [John Fogarty, director of the group New Energy Economy] said. “People were tricked by the coal and uranium companies in the past. I think they will be smarter this time. They have some of the best renewable resources in North America. The deals that will be brokered in the next decade need to be negotiated right so it’s not just another form of energy colonization.”Comment:  For more on the subject, see Litefoot's Native Green Energy and Indians as Energy Barons.

Below:  "Native land like this near Acoma, New Mexico, has provided uranium to power the country in the past. Tribal leaders want to avoid another round of 'energy colonization.'" (Photo by Kari Lydersen)

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