The Sierra Club and the Indigenous Environmental Network are fighting an unprecedented project that would bring one of the dirtiest forms of energy extraction in the world to eastern Utah. The proposed Antelope Creek tar sands oil project threatens to disrupt wildlife, poison and dry up rivers, and imperil human health with hazardous air pollutants, the groups claim. The project would also produce an exorbitant amount of the greenhouse gases.
In an effort to prevent these impacts, the groups filed a lawsuit in Utah federal district court last week. The suit challenges approval of the tar sands project by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, which manages the land slated for the development.
"Tar sands oil is one of the world's dirtiest forms of energy," said Utah Sierra Club representative Wayne Hoskisson. "This project would suck rivers dry, poison water, pollute the air, and threaten fish and wildlife. At a time when the whole world is turning to clean energy, it doesn't make sense to encourage such a wasteful and dangerous source of fuel."
The Antelope Creek tar sands project, proposed by Petroglyph Gas Partners, would drill 300 new wells within 720 acres of land, using unprecedented deep injection thermal extraction techniques. The project site is home to 13 species proposed or listed under the Endangered Species Act, and an extensive network of creeks that drain into the Duchesne and Green Rivers.
Greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands production are three times those of conventional oil and gas production. Tar sands development, which largely has been concentrated in Canada, is becoming that country’s largest single emitter of greenhouse gases and is widely regarded as an environmental disaster.
“In our work on the Canadian tar sands development we’ve learned that this type of fossil fuel development is very harmful to human health and has contaminated water resources,” said Jihan Gearon of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “It is the BIA’s responsibility to protect the trust assets of Tribes. By trying to allow this proposal to move forward on the basis of an outdated and inadequate environmental assessment, the BIA is failing in its fiduciary responsibility to insure the environment and well being of the local Ute tribe is protected.”
Learn more about the environmental dangers of tar sands at the link below.