Giant US Tar Sands Project Lurking in the Shadows

Posted: September 12, 2013 by earthfirstdurango in Tar Sands
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Utah Tar Sands Resistance is a grassroots organization of people determined to prevent the imminent threat of tar sands and tar shale mining in Utah, the Colorado Plateau region and, ultimately, the entire world.  Preparations for the first tar sands mine in the United States–like clear-cutting forests and scraping “overburden” from the land–is expected to begin in Eastern Utah in 2013. But we plan to stop it.  Tar sands and tar shale mining would make our rivers and aquifers toxic, poisoning the drinking water of the thirty million people who depend on the Colorado River basin. The Colorado River basin system is already over utilized.  Tar sands and tar shale mining are also the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet. Extracting and refining them produces three to five times as much CO2 as petroleum. This contributes dramatically to climate change. As a state and as a nation, we need to put our resources into developing cleaner energy solutions and, more importantly, ways to use far less energy in our lives. Tar sands and oil shale in Canada are already playing a large role in the destruction of our planet, and we must not allow this to happen in Utah.  Mining tar sands and tar shale also devastates ecosystems. At PR Springs, U.S. Oil Sands’ strip mining process would clear away lush forest of pine, spruce, and aspen; remove the soil; grade the land; and pulverize the earth to extract every possible ounce of oil-containing rock. After removing and crushing the rock and processing it to extract the oil, the company would  leaving a moonscape of rubble that looks, in the company’s own chilling words, “as clean as beach sand.”  It’s awful enough to imagine this happening to beautiful Main Canyon at PR Springs, a thriving wildlife habitat and hidden paradise to many outdoor rec enthusiasts. Imagine if it happened to hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness and Utah, leaving a vast expanse of nothing like in Alberta, Canada.  Safe drinking water, air, and land are human rights. Beautiful wilderness is our heritage. We deserve better, and so do all other species.  In our effort to stop tar sands and tar shale before it begins commercially in the U.S., we’re building coalitions with front-line communities, hosting community discussions in the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding areas, and joining with local and national allies committed to protecting our planet and human rights.  We believe that direct action is a powerful tool, particularly when all other options have failed. We use creativity in strategic and inspirational ways to confront power.  We are an all-volunteer group, and we have much work to do in order to stop tar sands mining. Please join the Resistance now, and help ensure we all have a livable planet!Imminent tar sands development threatens western US

By Jacob Chamberlain, Common Dreams

While rightful attention has been focused on Alberta’s tar sands development and its slated transport through the Keystone XL pipeline, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, along with Utah lawmakers, have quietly pushed forward plans for a similarly massive tar sands project back in the U.S., an exposé in Esquire highlights Thursday.

Much like Alberta’s vast tar sands oil extraction that has devastated public and environmental health and the climate, the BLM’s recent approval of mining projects will exploit more than 800,000 acres of public and private land for tar sands development across several western states.

The massive Green River Formation, a stretch of land that runs through Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, would be dug up and excavated, and Utah lawmakers “are eager to capitalize” on the imminent oil boom, according to the article.

As Esquire writes, “Already the state is literally paving the way for mining companies, including improving a highway that runs through one of last pieces of wilderness in the state at a cost of $85 million — most of it public funds.”

“With all eyes on Keystone, there’s an equally or even bigger GHG problem brewing right here on American soil—and on Obama’s watch,” Taylor McKinnon of the Grand Canyon Trust told Esquire.

And Esquire adds:

These lands may hold more recoverable oil than has been used so far in human history — 3 trillion barrels, according to a U.S. government report. They also contain two to seven times the oil — and potential green house gas emissions — as Alberta’s tar sands and could set off a “carbon bomb” that would hasten climate change…

The Center for Biological Diversity reported this week that a minor victory was won against the tar sands project when Emery Refining was forced to redo permitting for a tar sands refinery in Utah —after its approved construction by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality was appealed by groups in July for violating the Utah Air Conservation Act.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has passed preliminary approvals for extraction projects, but a second public review period is expected within the next couple of months—meaning the battle is not over yet.

The BLM is also fighting a coalition of environmental organizations in court and faces a burgeoning anti-tar sands grassroots movement, with groups such as Utah Tar Sands Resistance who organize ongoing local protests against the plans.

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