06-19-2018  5:27 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

CareOregon Awards $250,000 for Housing Projects

Recipients include Rogue Retreat, Bridges to Change, Luke Dorf, Transition Projects and Bridge Meadows ...

The Honorable Willie L. Brown to Receive NAACP Spingarn Medal

The award recognizes Brown’s lifelong commitment to the community, equality and civil rights ...

Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture

New Smithsonian exhibit looks at how Oprah Winfrey shaped American culture and vice versa ...

Prosecutor: Oregon man justified in shooting near hotel

BEND, Ore. (AP) — A heavy equipment operator was legally justified when he shot and wounded a knife-wielding man last month outside an Oregon hotel, a prosecutor said Monday.However, Robert Garris was foolish to appoint himself "sheriff of the Days Inn" and initiate a confrontation with the...

Some forest trails remain closed long after 2017 wildfire

IDANHA, Ore. (AP) — Some trails in Oregon's Willamette National Forest remain closed because of damage from a wildfire that scorched the area last year.The Whitewater Trail into the Jefferson Park area remains closed. Other trails, including some in the Fall Creek area near Eugene, also are...

Border separations ripple through midterm campaigns

Wrenching scenes of migrant children being separated from their parents at the southern border are roiling campaigns ahead of midterm elections, emboldening Democrats on the often-fraught issue of immigration while forcing an increasing number of Republicans to break from President Donald Trump on...

Spokane man convicted in 2015 deadly shooting

MOSES LAKE, Wash. (AP) — A Spokane man has been convicted of killing a Moses Lake teenager during a 2015 robbery attempt.The Columbia Basin Herald reports Jeremiah Smith was found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree assault and first-degree unlawful possession...

OPINION

What Happened? Assessing the Singapore Summit

For all its weaknesses, we are better off having had the summit than not ...

Redlining Settlement Fails to Provide Strong Penalties

A recent settlement of a federal redlining lawsuit is yet another sign that justice is still being denied ...

5 Lessons on Peace I Learned from My Cat Soleil

Dr. Jasmine Streeter takes some cues on comfort from her cat ...

Research Suggests Suicides By Racial and Ethnic Minorities are Undercounted

Sociologist Dr. Kimya Dennis describes barriers to culturally-specific suicide research and treatment ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Border separations ripple through midterm campaigns

Wrenching scenes of migrant children being separated from their parents at the southern border are roiling campaigns ahead of midterm elections, emboldening Democrats on the often-fraught issue of immigration while forcing an increasing number of Republicans to break from President Donald Trump on...

Germany: Syrian teen on trial over anti-Semitic assault

BERLIN (AP) — A 19-year-old from Syria is on trial in Berlin over an assault in the German capital on an Israeli wearing a skullcap.The young man is charged with bodily harm and slander. The April 17 attack caused nationwide outrage and fueled concerns over anti-Semitism in Germany.German...

City where many slaves entered US to apologize for slavery

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina city where almost half of all the slaves brought to the United States first set foot on American soil is ready to apologize for its role in the slave trade.The resolution expected to be passed by the Charleston City Council on Tuesday offers a...

ENTERTAINMENT

In 'Jurassic World,' a dino-sized animal-rights parable

NEW YORK (AP) — The dinosaurs of "Jurassic Park" are many things. They are special-effects wonders. They are unruly house guests. And they are some of the biggest, most foot-stomping metaphors around.Since Steven Spielberg's 1993 original, the dinos of "Jurassic Park" — many of them...

Immigration detention policy becomes major issue in media

NEW YORK (AP) — In a phone conversation with her executive producer over the weekend, "CBS This Morning" anchor Gayle King wondered if there wasn't more the network could do on the story of children being separated from parents through the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration...

Adam Levine, Behati Prinsloo share baby photo

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine spent his first Father's Day as a dad of two.Supermodel Behati Prinsloo shared a photo on Instagram of the 39-year-old holding their second daughter, Gio Grace, who was born in February. Their first daughter, Dusty Rose, is nearly 2 years...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

A big stink erupts over landfills ringing Russia's capital

KOLOMNA, Russia (AP) — Walking to a store in March, Olga Yevseyeva was hit by the familiar, noxious stench...

US could back 1st pot-derived medicine, and some are worried

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A British pharmaceutical company is getting closer to a decision on whether...

Army splits with West Point grad who touted communist revolt

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — The images Spenser Rapone posted on Twitter from his West Point graduation were...

North Korea's Kim meets with Chinese President Xi in Beijing

BEIJING (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday at the...

Twin brothers reunited 74 years after WWII death at Normandy

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (AP) — For decades, he was known only as Unknown X-9352 at a World War II...

France's Macron admonishes teenager; video goes viral

PARIS (AP) — A video of French President Emmanuel Macron strongly admonishing a teenager who called him by...

Cristina Silva the Associated Press

MOAPA, Nev. (AP) -- Beyond the ancestral hunting fields and the rows of small, sparse homes, the cemetery at the Moapa River Indian Reservation sprawls across a barren hill with the tombstones of tribal members who died young.

Their deaths haunt this small desert community outside Las Vegas. Children play indoors, afraid they might be next. Hoping to keep out the air they believe is killing their people, tribal elders keep their windows shut and avoid growing food on the land where their ancestors once found sustenance.

The Moapa Paiutes need not travel far to stare down their perceived enemy: The coal-powered plant blamed for polluting the southern Nevada reservation's air and water is visible from nearly every home.

``Everybody is sick,'' said Vicki Simmons, whose brother worked at the Reid Gardner Generating Station for 10 years before dying at age 31 with heart problems.

Across the country, a disproportionate number of power plants operate near or on tribal lands. NV Energy maintains its plant near the Moapa Paiute reservation is safe and has been upgraded with the required clean emissions technologies.

Meanwhile, local, state and federal health agencies say they cannot conduct accurate health studies to verify the tribe's complaints because the sample size would be too small.

In all, about 10 percent of all power plants operate within 20 miles of reservation land, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Many of those 51 energy production centers are more than a half-century old and affect roughly 48 tribes living on 50 reservations. Fewer than 2 percent of all people in the United States identify as Native American and only a small portion live on tribal land.

In many cases, Native American leaders have long embraced energy development as an economic opportunity for communities battling widespread unemployment.

But a growing backlash has some tribal leaders questioning whether the health and environmental risks associated with energy production has put their people in harm's way. While it's not conclusive that coal operations pose a direct danger to reservation residents, the Moapa Paiutes are one of several tribes demanding the closure of their neighborhood power plants.

Sherry Smith, a history professor who co-edited the book ``Indians and Energy: Exploitation and Opportunity in the American Southwest,'' said hardly anyone paid attention or were aware of potential environmental consequences when the power plants were built decades ago.

``These are not simply people who have been duped by the government or the energy corporations,'' said Smith, director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University in Texas. ``They are simply 21st century people who are coping with the same issues the rest of us are about economic development and the environmental consequences and having to weigh these things.''

Among the nation's 564 diverse tribal entities, energy production is widely debated. Many support environmental protections as a natural extension of American Indian values. But tribal leaders also aspire to protect their culture by keeping members on the reservation. Jobs and economic opportunity are necessary, energy production proponents say, and power plants fill the gap.

On one end of the spectrum is the Navajo Nation, the country's largest reservation, with five power plants near or on its sprawling territory in the Southwest. The tribe has embraced coal production as a central component of its economy, and Navajo officials traveled to Washington in June to oppose proposed EPA regulations to make the plants more environmentally sound. The new requirements would kill jobs, tribal leaders said.

On the other side of the debate have been members of tribes such as the Moapa Paiutes and the Northern Cheyenne of Montana, which for years blamed local energy companies for the health woes plaguing residents on their reservations.

In Moapa, Yvette Chevalier said she became ill within weeks of moving last year to the reservation, which sits 2 miles from the decades-old coal plant that sometimes infuses nearby skies with gray fumes. Gary Lee said he recently lost 40 pounds because of health troubles.

Former Tribal Chairman Vernon Lee said it's not unusual for members to be hospitalized.

``There have been a lot of heart attacks,'' Lee said. ``Many young people died.''

When coal is burned, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury compounds are released into the air, according to the EPA. Research has shown those fine particles can be linked to serious health problems, including premature death.

Children, who breathe more often, and senior citizens, who tend to have health problems agitated by pollution, are particularly vulnerable, said Colleen McKaughan, an associate director in the EPA's air division.

In Montana, the Northern Cheyenne live near the state's largest coal-power plant, the Colstrip Steam Plant. The four-unit power plant operated by PPL Montana produces 2,200 megawatts of electricity and is one of the largest employers in eastern Montana with roughly 400 workers. Many in the tribe want it shut down.

In northeastern Utah, the Ute Indian Tribe has threatened to sue Deseret Power over pollution from its 30-year-old plant on the reservation, which generates 500-megawatts of electricity. Ozone readings in the region can reach nearly twice the limit considered safe by the EPA, especially during winter months.

``They are legitimately concerned about the impact the power plant has on the reservation,'' said Michael Harris, a lawyer representing the tribe.

Harris said some tribal members have complained of asthma attacks and cancer clusters and the plant might be to blame. Deseret Power did not respond to a request for comment.

To be sure, tribes fighting energy companies are the exceptions.

The massive Four Corners Steam Plant sits on Navajo land in Fruitland, N.M., where the Arizona Public Service Company says it generates 2,040 megawatts of electricity and serves New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas.

Tribal members who work at the power plants earn roughly triple the average Navajo family income of about $20,000 per year. The tribe expects to receive more than $7 million annually from the two power plants on its land under its latest lease proposals.

``A lot of our own people who are critical of coal are not understanding the economic benefits,'' said Stephen Etsitty, executive director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency. ``It's easy to perceive a problem when you see a big power plant smoke stack ... but that often causes you not to look at other areas of concern.''

In Moapa, Simmons -- whose 31-year-old brother passed away after working at Reid Gardner Generating Station -- can see the Nevada power plant from her kitchen window. It reminds her of her brother's death.

She also frets for her 24-year-old son, who works at the plant and comes home with ash-covered skin. His wife is pregnant with Simmon's first grandchild.

``The land is poisoned,'' she said. ``I don't even open my window because I don't like to look at it.''

 

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