For decades, fossil fuel was the only game in town. Now, even that is threatening to disappear

November 9, 2017 | — For 27 years, Erwin Marks helped design military aircraft, missiles, drones and even solid rocket boosters for the space shuttle. The work was a good fit for Marks, who’d left the Navajo Nation to study design engineering technology at Brigham Young University in the 1980s. But after almost three decades, Marks had grown tired of the hiring and layoff cycles every few years as federal contracts were awarded and expired.

“There’s a lot of ups and downs,” Marks said of aerospace manufacturing. “I wanted to get into something that was more stable.”

When he was offered a maintenance planning position at Navajo Generating Station(NGS), a coal-fired power plant outside Page, Arizona, in 2014, Marks took it.

Not only would the job put him closer to where he grew up and near his siblings, he thought it might be the last time he would have to look for new work.

“This is probably the first three years in my career I haven’t gone through a layoff,” he said.

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