Posts Tagged ‘Utah’

from HaulNo.org

Energy Fuels Inc. is planning to poison the Grand Canyon including the precious Colorado River. Are we going to let our future be poisoned for thousands of generations by this greedy corporation? We say, “Haul no!”

#HaulNo! is an awareness & action tour that is being planned for Spring 2017 throughout Northern Arizona and Southern Utah along the proposed uranium haul route from Energy Fuel’s Canyon Mine to its White Mesa Mill. Volunteers from organizations such as Diné No Nukes, Clean Up The Mines, Grand Canyon Trust, and concerned community members have joined forces to spread awareness and empower action to ensure that the Grand Canyon, sacred sites, precious water, and our communities are safeguarded from the deadly and toxic threat of uranium contamination.

Click here to read more…

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Fracking puts pressure on Moab

Posted: January 3, 2015 by earthfirstdurango in fracking, oil & gas, water
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A lunar eclipse is seen framed within Turret Arch at Arches National Park. The gas and oil industry around Moab is making a visible impression. Some are concerned it is threatening scenic views and recreation areas.

Proliferation of wells threatens scenic values, recreation industry (not to mention the land, its inhabitants, and our water supply!)

By Nancy Lofholm, The Denver Post

MOAB, Utah (AP) – A different kind of spire is jutting into the iconic red rock vistas of Moab.

It is the scaffolding of drilling rigs, and it heralds a new chapter in Moab’s long history of energy extraction. Moab may have been comfortable with the uranium industry that put it on the map in another century. But having an oil patch amid this area’s popular national parks and renowned recreational backcountry is jarring to some residents.

Gas and oil wells have been drilled piecemeal around here for decades. But today’s wells represent a kind of backcountry industrialization that this area hasn’t dealt with before.

The area where the drilling is taking place attracts an estimated 500,000 backcountry recreationists a year. Those visitors are now a bedrock of Moab’s economy. Seventy percent of jobs in Grand County derive from tourism, and recreation accounts for three times more of the public lands revenue that brings in about $200 million to Moab each year. Extractive industries account for the rest.

On the other side of the economic impact pie, the gas and oil wells that currently are producing add about $2.6 million to Grand County coffers annually. And gas and oil money that flows back to the county from the state topped $1 million last year. The gas and oil reserves still in the ground under the red rock country point to even more future economic windfall. Grand County has an estimated 145 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 32.5 million barrels of oil.

Click here to read the full article…

From the Utah Geological Survey (industry-aiding governmental source): "This Uinta Basin water study will help alleviate problems associated with produced saline water as a means to facilitate increased conventional hydrocarbon production and help resolve water-related environmental barriers to possible oil shale development."(Associated Press) SALT LAKE CITY – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment on its draft study of a company’s proposal to significantly boost its gas and oil production in the Uintah Basin.

Newfield Exploration Co., Utah’s largest crude oil producer, would be able to add 5,750 new oil and gas wells over a 16-year period at an existing field under the plan.

The Deseret News reported the Monument Butte Project covers 120,000 acres near Myton, and would result in 170 miles of new roads and new pipelines in Duchesne and Uintah counties.

The BLM says its plan is the most restrictive for new oil and gas development across sensitive landscapes while still meeting project needs.

The agency will accept public comment on the plan through Feb. 4.

Before it Starts: Keep Tar Sands and Oil Shale Mining out of he U.S.A. is a Project of Living Rivers. Living Rivers & Colorado Riverkeeper is a Utah non-profit corporation recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Living Rivers formed in 2000 to create public awareness and action toward restoring the biological integrity of the Colorado River, which is the most regulated river in the United States.

(Associated Press) SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah company has cleared a final hurdle to develop the first commercial oil shale mine in the nation.

The Utah Division of Water Quality on Friday issued a groundwater permit to Red Leaf Resources, which plans to develop a shale mine on state land in the Uinta Basin in eastern Utah.

Red Leaf hopes to become the first company to extract oil in commercial amounts from shale that exists in abundance under Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Oil-shale deposits in the three states represent a potentially huge, unconventional energy resource, but the trick is turning it into oil. Oil shale is rock that contains kerogen, which must be subjected to high heat before it produces liquid.

Companies have been trying to figure out how to do that commercially in the U.S. with limited environmental effects.

Red Leaf CEO Adolph Lechtenberger said in a statement that its initial, small-scale demonstration project will produce more than 300,000 barrels of oil and “prove our clean oil shale technology works on a large scale.” The company has about 600 million barrels available under its Utah leasehold.

Sage Grouse RebelsBut environmentalists expressed skepticism, saying groundwater disturbance is just one of many environmental drawbacks posed by extraction of the Uinta Basin’s rich oil shale and tar sands resources.

The ore will be strip mined, environmentalists said, and developers will consume more resources to convert hydrocarbon pre-cursors kerogen and bitumen into liquid oil.

“They take the skin off the planet and are not putting it back. It’s going to be a moonscape,” said John Weisheit of Moab-based Living Rivers. “They are destroying the watershed, the near-surface aquifers. It’s a water system that makes the ecosystem what it is.”

State regulators believe the lands do not have much groundwater and note they are requiring Red Leaf to maintain monitoring wells to determine how the project affects the water system.

“We based our permit decision on the absence of water in the extraction process, the lack of an aquifer and low permeability of the rocks underlying the test site,” DWQ director Walt Baker told The Tribune. “We plan to keep a close eye on the project to make sure the process works as promised.”

Red Leaf also plans to develop below-grade ovens to heat the ore mined.

The company’s process “extracts oil with lower energy consumption, lower emissions, lower water use and less environmental impact than any oil shale technology deployed in the world today,” Lechtenberger said.

Environmentalists also criticized Red Leaf’s reclamation plan. “It allows them to keep the earth ovens in place and cover it with top soil,” Weisheit said.

Oil, gas drilling delayed in Utah

Posted: September 28, 2013 by earthfirstdurango in fracking, oil & gas
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Previous, related article from Sept. 16th - From The Durango Herald (Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY – An independent state agency announced Friday it was putting on hold a lease for oil and gas drilling in a wild area of Utah in a concession to big-game hunters who rallied the opposition of Gov. Gary Herbert.

Sportsmen’s groups hailed the agreement between state-lands managers and Anadarko Petroleum. It delays until 2016 exploratory drilling in the 28-square-mile Bogart Canyon area of the Book Cliffs in Grand County.

The board of the Utah Trust Lands Administration voted Thursday to scale back the drilling lease for the Texas-based company. Anadarko can still sink wells on 150 square miles of more developed lands in the Book Cliffs region.

The deal gives Herbert and U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop more time to explore federal land-trade opportunities that could compensate Utah for pulling back drilling in this area, officials said Friday.

The chairman of the state-lands agency said it will “fully cooperate with Congressman Bishop’s broader consolidation effort.”

“We are anxious to see if the process can provide an exchange proposal equal to or better than the agency’s current land position in the Book Cliffs,” said agency chairman Steve Ostler, a former executive for real-estate developer The Boyer Co.

Herbert announced his opposition Aug. 27, acknowledging the trust-lands agency has a responsibility to make money for Utah schools, but “clearly, a lot of groups are upset” about the Book Cliffs lease. He suggested the agency look to a longer-term strategy of trading less developed state lands for federal preservation, while taking other mineral-rich federal lands.

Officials aggressively developed Utah’s portfolio of checkerboard lands inside federal domain in Utah with real-estate sales and oil-and-gas drilling leases. The agency manages 3.4 million acres of trust lands remaining from a statehood grant for the benefit of the schools. The trust is valued at $1.67 billion, up from $60 million in the past two decades.

Officials expressed some concern Friday that back-pedaling on oil and gas leasing could shortchange funding for Utah’s schools. For that reason, the state Board of Education has endorsed the original Anadarko lease as the best decision for public schools.

Other beneficiaries of the state trust include a hospital and school at University of Utah dedicated to mining, schools for the deaf and blind and the Utah State Hospital.

Drilling delayed in eastern Utah

Posted: September 16, 2013 by earthfirstdurango in fracking, oil & gas
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Previous, related post: Utah opens Book Cliffs region to gas, oil drillingFrom The Durango Herald (AP):

MOAB – At the urging of Gov. Gary Herbert and U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, exploratory drilling for oil and natural gas in a roadless section of eastern Utah known for its wildlife has been put on hold until 2016.

Sportsmen’s groups hailed an agreement announced Friday between state land managers and Anadarko Petroleum that delays exploration in the 18,000-acre Bogart Canyon area of the Book Cliffs in Grand County.

The Texas-based company still can drill in the rest of the 96,000 acres it leased last month from the Utah Trust Lands Administration, which manages trust lands remaining from a statehood grant for the benefit of schools.

The agreement was reached after representatives from Herbert and Bishop’s offices, the land-trust agency and Anadarko met in private Thursday.

The deal provides time needed to explore all options for protecting prime habitat for fish and wildlife in Utah, said Casey Snider, Utah coordinator for Trout Unlimited.

“We’ve gotten a little breathing room. Now we’ve got to get down to the real work,” he told The Deseret News.

Last week, the Utah Board of Education rejected a request by Herbert and Bishop to delay exploratory drilling around Bogart Canyon after state land managers said such a move could devalue the deal they were still negotiating with Anadarko.

The two Republicans, who champion energy development, said the trust-lands agency’s secret dealings with Anadarko excluded the interests and views of Utah residents.

But Herbert and Bishop, in statements, praised the agreement to delay drilling in the roadless area.

“Providing time to work out a broader lands initiative through a more inclusive and balanced approach is a win-win for all Utahns, especially Utah’s schoolchildren,” Bishop said.

Grand County Council member Lynn Jackson sought assurances a final decision won’t be debated in secret.

“I’m still concerned about the process, and I highly encourage us as a state to provide a more open and transparent process,” Jackson said.

The trust-lands agency’s board is scheduled to consider modification of the contract at a Sept. 26 meeting in St. George.

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!

By Leslie MacMillan, Esquire

As we mentioned yesterday, Neil Young said Monday that tar sands production in Canada’s boreal forests — and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to transport the fuel across America’s heartland — threatens to pollute the earth, kill Native people and has already transformed the area into a wasteland that “looks like Hiroshima.”

While tar sands have become synonymous with Alberta, few know that the United States may soon see its own oil boom. Last March, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved more than 800,000 acres for tar sands and oil shale development over a vast stretch of land in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado known as the Green River Formation.

“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,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Grand Canyon Trust, a nonprofit environmental group that has sued the federal government over the decision.

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, said McKinnon.

Vernal, Utah, a town perhaps best known to outsiders for its 40-foot tall pink dinosaur that greets travelers passing through, will be the epicenter of tar sands development. The U.S Department of Energy says there are nearly a billion barrels of oil contained at nearby Asphalt Ridge.

Here, mining projects are already set to go forward on state and private land. State permits in hand, Canada-based U.S. Oil Sands is set to launch America’s first commercial-scale tar sands mine next year.

Cameron Todd, CEO of U.S. Oil Sands, declared, “Ours will be the most environmentally responsible tar sands project ever put on the planet earth.” Bitumen, the sludgy hydrocarbon found in tar sands, must be separated from the rock using chemical solvents and water. Todd says his company will use very little water and a 98 percent biodegradable solvent derived from orange peels.

But environmentalists say such technology is speculative and unproven on American soil, and water is a concern in the arid West. Other major players in tar sands leasing in Utah include Red Leaf Resources, which was recently bought by Total, a big oil player from France, and Enefit, an Estonian company.

The BLM prepared an environmental analysis that passed its first public review period in July. Kent Hoffman, deputy state director for land and minerals for the Utah BLM acknowledged that it’s difficult to evaluate impacts such as emissions. “Greenhouse gasses are a nebulous issue to try to get a handle on,” he said, adding that that the BLM is not “required by the courts” to predict all the impacts, such as end use.

Hoffman said the agency is now reviewing comments and will issue a final analysis in the coming months that will open another public review period. He emphasized that once a parcel of land is leased, a second, site-specific, process-specific review is conducted. Until then, “it’s a speculative shot in the dark as to what the impacts are. To a certain extent, I can see why there’s some uncomfortableness.”

In the arid high country between Vernal and Moab, a ghostly tableau of pale rock formations littered with dinosaur fossils, conventional mining has long been the county’s mainstay. But recreation is also a burgeoning industry, and environmentalists warn that tar sands development — which often involves strip mining — will mar the red-rock country and send clouds of dust as far away as Utah’s big national parks.

Todd called such notions “absolutely ludicrous. You can’t see the mining area from Canyonlands or Arches. I challenge anyone to go to their window and tell me if you can see 50 miles away.”

But a letter dated 2008 from the Environmental Protection Agency to the BLM noted elevated levels of particulate matter and ozone recorded from monitoring stations as far away as Canyonlands, the largest roadless tract and one of the last few wilderness areas in the lower 48 states.

“We have problems with air quality in the Uintah Basin, there’s no question about that,” said Hoffman.

But mining brings money to state coffers and jobs in an area where the average non-mining wage is $26,000, according to statistics provided by the city of Moab. Thus Utah lawmakers are eager to capitalize on the oil boom. 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. “It’s an amazing amount of money to spend to develop a fuel source whose energy density is about the same as a piece of horse dung,” says McKinnon.

Protests on the Seep Ridge Road have ramped up in recent weeks, with demonstrators duct-taping themselves to equipment and getting arrested.

Meanwhile, Todd says that Utah’s governor and “a long list of state and county officials are very supportive” of his tar sands project.

One of the names on his list is Ken Davey, an economic development specialist for the city of Moab. He estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of Moab residents strongly support tar sands development; another 15 percent oppose it. “Most are somewhere in the middle: we value the economic opportunities, but we don’t want to end up like Canada.”

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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Previously: Utah Gov. Herbert asks SITLA to reconsider Book Cliffs leaseFrom The Durango Herald (Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY – Despite opposition from Gov. Gary Herbert and U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, the Utah State Board of Education has endorsed a lease that would open wildlands in eastern Utah to oil and gas exploration.

Board members on Friday voted 15-0 to back a decision by the Utah Trust Lands Administration to lease up to 155 square miles, or 96,000 acres, of the Book Cliffs region to Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for five years.

The trust-lands agency plans to sign a deal next week with Anadarko to allow drilling on the state lands, including a scenic portion known for its wildlife along the Tavaputs Plateau in Grand County.

Herbert and Bishop have sought to keep that area around Bogart Canyon – cherished by hunters and environmentalists – out of the lease. They complained the agency’s secret dealings with Anadarko excluded the interests and views of Utah residents.

Bishop is spearheading negotiations designed to resolve Utah’s long-running battles over what public lands should be preserved and what public lands should be used for resource extraction. The effort involves hunters, environmentalists, rural county commissioners and the oil and gas industry.

“Inclusion of this small area in the … lease complicates our larger planning effort and could jeopardize the possibility of exchanging one of the effort’s crown jewels for developable land that is potentially even more beneficial for Utah’s schools,” Herbert and Bishop wrote in a letter to the education board.

“Leasing the southern portion of the Book Cliffs could very seriously jeopardize the broader lands consolidation effort, as well as an optimal return for Utah’s schoolchildren,” the two Republicans said.

But asking Anadarko to back off Bogart Canyon would devalue the overall lease and cost the school trust a potentially lucrative revenue stream amounting to more than $6 million per well, some education board members said.

State-lands agency director Kevin Carter said drilling would not impede hunting and other public uses around Bogart Canyon.

“We think we can work with our lessee partner and do this development in such a way that it retains the majority of its natural character and still allows us to extract from it those things that are important,” he said.

Herbert has limited influence over the independent trust-lands administration, which controls square-mile sections of land awarded to Utah at statehood.

The agency manages a checkerboard of 3.4 million acres of trust lands remaining from a statehood grant for the benefit of the schools. It raises most of its revenue from oil and gas leasing.