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Railway Railway


Navajo Coal
Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad

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Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad 1694a

Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad 1694a
Driving along US 160 northeast of Tuba City, AZ, one comes upon a startling sight -- an electric railway line. While electric rail lines are common in the Northeast, I don't recall ever seeing one in the West or in as rural an area as this. Given that electric rail is not used in the West, the existence of an electric rail line was quite mystifying. On further investigation it turned out that this is a rail line that runs only between a coal-fired generating plant near Lake Powell and the Black Mesa coal mine near Kayenta, AZ.

The generating plant itself has been a point of contention for many years due to the pollution and haze it causes near the Grand Canyon and over an area of the West that is otherwise pristine, and its impact on water quality for the Native American tribes in the area. The electricity generated by the plant is or was sold to major urban areas in the west, including Las Vegas and Los Angeles, thus the plant and related pollution could be interpreted as urban areas exporting their pollution.

As somebody sitting in Chicago typing on a machine powered by electricity likely generated around the small town of Morris, I can't really condemn Las Vegas or Los Angeles. I know a lot of people who believe very deeply in sustainable lifestyles and who loudly proclaim the efficiency of the urban environment, and in a lot of things they're right. But they never want to acknowledge just how extreme and far-reaching an impact these cities have on their surroundings, often stretching hundreds of miles away.
4 years ago.
Don Barrett (aka DBs travels)
Don Barrett (aka DBs…
There always seems to be a fairly active set of Californians willing to take on the abuses of our cities. There's a very active movement that keeps the issue of Arizona coal / LA electricity as a high public policy issue.
4 years ago.