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Energy Sovereignty Projects

energy sovereignty

Energy Sovereignty

Energy sovereignty entails understanding and having access to the preferred type of energy e.g., biomass, solar, coal. This project engages students with our Diné partners using interviews and chapter house discussions to better understand energy preferences, uses, and cultural significance.


Kate Magargal, Jonah Yellowman, Gavin Noyes, Brian Codding, (2022). "Haa’jiih k’ó’?: A summary of firewood research findings and recommendations." SPARC Environmental Justice Lab, Salt Lake City, UT.

Magargal, K., Yellowman, J.,  Morning Star Chee, S., Wabel, M., Macfarlan, S., Codding, B. (In press.) Human Ecology. Political ecology of energy sovereignty on Navajo Nation.

Magargal, K. Chee, S., Yellowman, J., Kurt Wilson, Simon Brewer, Brian Codding, Adrienne Cachelin. (In press.) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. The impacts of climate change, energy policy, and traditional ecological practices on firewood availability for Diné (Navajo) People.

Energy Democracy in Puerto Rico

Energy democracy seeks to ensure that the energy transition is as just, democratic, and equitable as possible. This project works with community groups and academics in Puerto Rico to study how people communicate about energy transition in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria exposed major flaws in the status quo energy system in Puerto Rico, resulting in up to 329 days without power for some Puerto Rico communities. An electricity grid vulnerable to disasters (hurricanes and earthquakes), years of mismanagement of Puerto Rico’s state energy utility, dependence on imported coal and natural gas, and a colonial relationship with the United States have all contributed to an energy crisis in the archipelago. Puerto Rico is at an energy crossroad: powerful corporate forces are seeking to reform the system by rebuilding the status quo grid and importing more natural gas; and community groups are working toward transforming the system toward distributed solar, micro-grids, and democratic decision making. This project uses media analysis, ethnographic fieldwork, interviewing, and document analysis to not only understand ongoing energy issues in Puerto Rico but also to use the tools of engaged research to promote a democratic and just energy transition.
Barcos, J., Bickner, K., Critchley, K. Dígale, C. Paulson-Luna, D. Solar Justice In Puerto Rico: An Annotated Bibliography, SPARC Environmental Justice Lab, Salt Lake City, UT.

Hernandez, N., Endres, D. (2020) Air Justice: Bringing Equity, Democracy, and Participation to the Air Quality Conversation. Utah Museum of Fine Arts, ACME Initiative, Salt Lake City, UT.


Mapping Energy Sovereignty

Understanding the history of Utah Diné Bikéyah in light of current management practices that threaten critical energy resources for inhabitants by limiting areas for wood collection while also allowing for fossil field extraction both on the reservation and on surrounding public lands, provides an interesting context for understanding public lands as a tool of colonization.  It also provides context for reimagining an energy system based in native sovereignty on a local scale and energy democracy on a broader scale.


Last Updated: 8/15/23