Coal and Uranium Mining

LCI is excited to be co-hosting the Grand Canyon Semester for Fall 2014 with NAU’s Honors Program and Grand Canyon National Park. The GCS students are kindly providing blog updates of their activities this fall so that we can live vicariously through their experiences– hooray!

(by RobinLi, Anna, and Natalie)

We asked everyone in the group what aspect of this past weekend resonated with them most. Here’s what they had to say:

“I loved being at the campsite, because it was, besides being a fake lake, just beautiful- the stars were beautiful. I had to get up in the middle of the night and I walked into the water and it was nice and warm! Then I went back to bed, and I was covered in sand… Everything was sandy! But other than the sand, it was really nice.”  -Kelli


“I really got the sense [at Navajo Generating Station] that coal-fired power plants are on their way out. The overall experience within the plant seemed old- almost archaic. I was instilled with a weird sense that this type of energy exploitation is on the way out of use, or at least will come to have less of an effect [on our planet].  -Levi

“Horseshoe bend was a good way to wrap up everything. We’d seen the dam, we’d heard what they had to say, we’d seen Navajo Generating Station. It was nice to wrap it up with a perspective we were familiar with. I don’t think we were really familiar with a lot of aspects of the dam, but we were familiar with Grand Canyon Trust. It was good to end with something we could both agree with and understand.”  -Maddie

HorseShoeBend“Navajo Generating Station was really interesting because it was clear how complicated the situation is. That plant provides a lot of jobs, and the Navajo community depends on it. All of the issues we’re learning about this semester are so interconnected, and nothing is black and white.”  -Rene

“One of my most memorable moments was walking into Navajo Generating Station and being able to feel the power pulsing through the room. I found all the mechanics of the station to be fascinating, however it was hard to comprehend how much pollution the station was creating.”  -Jayleen


“My most memorable moment was seeing Glenn Canyon Dam and then camping on Lake Powell and being able to see two uses of the water. After we got set up, a huge rain cloud drifted over us and it was fun to see everybody running into their tents for the 15 minutes of rain, and then emerging to see a beautiful sunset over Lake Powell.” -Emily


“Walking up to the turbine deck at Navajo Generating Station I found it extraordinarily beautiful and terrible. I thought it was really grungy in there in a really gross and amazing kind of way.” -Zia

“Sitting at Lake Powell and feeling guilty for enjoying myself. It’s such a beautiful and relaxing place, but I know it shouldn’t be there. It kind of sucks to enjoy Lake Powell because we all know it should look way different and we should be enjoying a canyon instead of a lake.”  -Jamie


“I liked swimming in Lake Powell. I also really liked looking across horseshoe bend, it made me feel very small in the world. It was good to hear both sides of NGS from the tour and from Roger.”  -Tiffany

This past weekend, GCS had the incredible opportunity to see places we’ve been talking about all semester. Our tour of Glen Canyon Dam, and our night at Lone Rock Campsite left an impression on me and brought about conflicting thoughts about the effect that I, personally, have on the environment, both negative and positive.

Though the reservoir, Lake Powell, covers up beautiful Glen Canyon, it’s still beautiful itself! Its man-made origin is less than desirable for those of us who wish our planet was allowed to exist as it was meant to, before humans came around and starting tweaking it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a beautiful place. The group loved camping there (I’ve always wanted to camp on a beach, so that was a cool experience for me!) despite its backstory. As for the dam, I know we all feel conflicting emotions about our own involvement in its existence. Sure, we didn’t build it, we didn’t ask for it, but we’re here, and we use that water and electricity just as much as anyone else. Every time we turn on the sink, run the dishwasher, take a shower or flush, we are reminded of the consequences of those actions. But perhaps our education on the subject is a burden that we all must carry until we can find a viable alternative solution to the problem of water shortages in the Southwest.


This weekend will remain in my mind for a long time to come. Seeing Glen Canyon Dam was something I only imagined in class, so seeing it was a little surreal for me. Our tour was great–we learned about the construction of the dam, however nothing about the adverse effect the dam is having today. That night, we camped at Lake Powell and I remember talking with some of the classmates about how the lake looks out of place. Sure, it’s beautiful, but it looks like it doesn’t belong. I couldn’t help but imagine sunken Glen Canyon below, and how I would probably never get to see it in my lifetime. My time there there was still unforgettable, and I am so happy that I got to experience Lake Powell, even if it is man made. When we all set up our tents, a big cloud came by and pelted us with rain for a good 15 minutes, but when we emerged, there was the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen.

On Friday we visited Navajo Generating Station. The tour itself was very formal, with hardhats, safety glasses, and ear plugs included. The generating station itself if very divided issue for me. It severely pollutes the environment which leads to health issues for the people in the area, yet it provides over 500 jobs for Native American people, and contributes to their economy. I think it’s very one-sided to say that Navajo Generating Station should be abolished because of the services it provides to people in a tribal economy that has a 52% unemployment rate. Overall, our time at Navajo Generating Station was very informative a good experience.


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