Navajo energy company’s CEO steps down

By: - January 10, 2022 5:30 am

Aerial view of Navajo Mine south of Fruitland (Photo by Dicklyon via Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0)

The CEO of the Navajo Transitional Energy Company will be resigning from his post on Jan. 31.

Source New Mexico obtained CEO Clark Moseley’s Jan. 7 letter to Navajo President Jonathan Nez and Council Speaker Seth Damon referencing his resignation at the end of the month and listing accomplishments achieved by NTEC during Moseley’s time as the company’s leader. 

“It has been an extraordinary journey,” Moseley wrote. “I am very proud of all that NTEC has achieved since it was created. NTEC is one of the most unique and successfully tribally owned entities in the United States.”

NTEC was established in 2013 by the Navajo Nation government to “achieve greater sovereignty over its natural resources,” according to the company’s website, though it operates as an independent commercial entity. 

According to the letter, NTEC:

  • Provided over 12,000 tons of coal to over 10,000 recipients through its Community Heating Resource Program throughout the 2020 to 2021 season 
  • Will have provided 5,153 tons of coal to individuals and chapters this season by the end of winter in 2022 
  • Awarded 32 Navajo students with college scholarships
  • Awarded $250,000 in community benefit fund grants to nonprofit organizations
  • Returned over $40 million to the Navajo Nation
  • Invested in helium
  • Took over corporations at the Navajo Mine
  • Returned 2,200 acres of reclaimed land to the Navajo Nation

“NTEC is one of the safest coal mining companies in the U.S.,” Moseley said. 

Over the last year, the company was successful in managing costs and in being a reliable supplier of energy, he said.

In 2013, Navajo Nation Council voted to approve NTEC purchasing the Navajo Mine from the BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal Company. Moseley writes that within this time, NTEC made the mine profitable again  and returned $320 million to the Nation. 

Moseley also mentioned the controversial purchase of the Cloud Peak Energy company, including the three coal mines located in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana — the Antelope, Cordero Rojo and Spring Creek mines.

“There was considerable doubt expressed when we announced this acquisition,” Moseley said. “But the mines have performed exceptionally well, giving NTEC the resources to further expand and diversify its portfolio.”

Doubt is an understatement. After it the purchase was announced, Council debated terminating agreements created when NTEC purchased the Navajo Mine. Ending those agreements would ensure the Nation would not be on the hook for lawsuits or cleanup costs associated with the new mines.

With the Council taking its time to decide, Nez took the initiative and terminated the agreements in late 2019.

Moseley, in his letter, goes on to mention the acquisition of NTEC’s Tacitus Helium and the creation of NTEC’s helium business on the Nation, which did not require funding from the tribal government.

“As I depart my work at NTEC, I am confident that we have positioned the company to protect and grow the Nation’s energy assets into the future,” wrote Moseley. 

Vern Lund was voted by the NTEC board of directors to replace Moseley as CEO and management committee executive. According to Lund’s Linkedin, he came onboard with NTEC as its vice president of commercial operations only in February 2020. 

Before that, he spent four years as vice president of engineering & business development at the North American Coal Corporation in Plano, Texas. For six years, he was the president of Liberty Fuels Company, part of the North American Coal Corporation, in Meridian, Mississippi.

“I have been able to work closely with (Lund) over the course of the past year,” wrote Moseley. “I know he will continue to be a real asset to the company. I wish him every success in his new role.”

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Arlyssa Becenti
Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti is a Diné journalist with 10 years experience reporting on Navajo Nation. She recently placed first for Arizona Press Club’s community investigating reporting for her series on the illegal hemp and marijuana farms in Shiprock, N.M. She was also awarded Arizona Press Club’s 2020 Nina Mason Pulliam Environmental Journalism Award for community reporting. She has reported for the daily Gallup Independent and weekly Navajo Times. She is pursuing her masters in investigative journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.