Construction of First US Tar Sands Mine Begins, Even As It's Blockaded

While activists fight tar sands pipelines entering from Canada across the US, construction has started on the our very own tar sands mine in eastern Utah.

Leading the charge against it is Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Peaceful Uprising, which have set up a permanent blockade to prevent it from moving forward.

This week, 21 protesters, legal observers and journalists have been arrested (2 injured) as about 80 people participated in the blockade, some locking themselves to equipment being used to clear-cut and grade an area designated for a processing plant.

So far, US Oil Sands (a Canadian company) has cleared about 80 acres of forest and sage land – they have construction permits on 212 acres of pristine wilderness and strip mine land leases on a full 32,000 acres in the Colorado River Basin – which supplies  drinking water to 40 million people. Not only would it add to the pollution that already exists, but the mine would consume precious water supplies in an area that can’t afford that.

Banners read, "You are trespassing on Ute land," "Respect Existence or Expect Resistance."

Green River Formation could contain 353 billion to 1.15 trillion barrels of oil, according to the US Geological Survey. That’s 2-7 times more than the 170 billion barrels that could be delivered by the Keystone XL pipeline over its lifetime.

"The public needs to understand that the Colorado River Basin’s carbon bomb dwarfs Alberta’s," says Taylor McKinnon, director of energy with Grand Canyon Trust. "In addition to polluting Utah’s already-dirty air, this refinery is another step toward massive strip mining, greenhouse gas emissions and Colorado River drying."

Tar Sands Utah Deer

Indeed, Utah’s political leaders and agencies are fast-tracking development and denouncing the federal government for holding it up – tar sands development could cover about two-thirds of Utah!           

"US Oil Sands perfectly demonstrates capitalism’s brazen disregard for the climate crisis, human and tribal rights and rights of the planet itself to be free of dangerous corporate parasites," says Jessica Lee, speaking for the non-profits.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is questioning whether US Oil Sands should have received a permit without tribal authorization because it borders and sometimes infringes on reservation land. 
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) didn’t even do an environmental analysis!

Recently, a judge ruled against BML’s permit to expand a coal mine because climate change ramifications weren’t considered. Perhaps activists will win this time in court against tar sands exploitation, after losing the first time in a ridiculous decision.

As it has in Canada, tar sands mines would industrialize some of our most pristine backcountry, destroying habitat, polluting and depleting already scarce water supplies, not to mention the greenhouse gases and air pollution. I can’t believe we are going ahead with this!!

Read our article, Mindnumbing: Permits Awarded for Utah Tar Sands Extraction.

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Comments on “Construction of First US Tar Sands Mine Begins, Even As It's Blockaded”

  1. Earl Thomas

    More one-sided reporting. How about trying a more balanced approach. Perhaps an article that also says why energy independence might be important to North America. Having our own resources used to be a good thing. For reference, try some general articles published after September 11, 2001.

  2. Rona Fried

    Earl, America does need to be energy independent and that means clean, renewable energy, not filthy tar sands. We have a choice and yes, we are one-sided about this issue. C’mon, wouldn’t you prefer to get your energy from the wind and sun instead of destroying pristine wilderness, killing countless animals, and ruining the health of people and the planet?

  3. KH Kim

    Already developing oil sand eco-frendly technology
    Unlike canada oil sand ,not require water,no tailing pond . American oil sands are no more dirty oil sand


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