EUGENE, Ore. –(February 23, 2015)—Wahleah Johns is joining the lineup of keynote speakers at Changing Currents: the 33rd Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, held at the University of Oregon.
Wahleah is a founding member and the Solar Project Manager at Black Mesa Water Coalition. Black Mesa Water Coalition advocates for environmental justice and sustainable development on the Navajo Nation.
Wahleah grew up atop Black Mesa on Navajo lands in northeastern Arizona, where Peabody Energy ran what was the largest strip-mining operation on Indian land in the country. The mine drew three million gallons of water per day to pipe its coal slurry from Hopi to Navajo country and then across state lines to a generating station in Nevada.
Angered by the fossil fuel industry’s exploitation of their land and water, a group of students at Northern Arizona University founded Black Mesa Water Coalition in 2001. Wahleah Johns became co-director of the coalition as they launched a campaign to halt environmental degradation on tribal land and replace extractive industries with sustainable alternatives.
In July 2009, the Navajo became the first American Indian nation to enact green jobs legislation, aimed at democratizing tribal decision-making and speeding the transition to a more sustainable future. Presently, Wahleah is leading an initiative to transition Black Mesa’s reclaimed mining lands into solar farms.
Changing Currents: the 33rd Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference will take place March 5-8, 2015, at the University of Oregon School of Law in Eugene, Oregon. More information can be found at www.pielc.org.