Sept. 19-21: Fall Campout in the Book Cliffs: A Weekend of Stories & Connecting with the Land

Fall Campout

On the weekend of September 19 to 21, Utah Tar Sands Resistance and friends will be hosting a fall camp out in the Book Cliffs! It will be a time for folks from the Uintah Basin, Moab, Grand Junction, and other surrounding areas to meet, visit the land, and share stories about regional struggles.

There will be fireside chats featuring stories about important regional movements such as the nuclear test site protests and past efforts to halt tar sands mining on the Colorado Plateau. We’ll also have bird watching, animal tracking, and plant identification walks as we get to know the land better, and we’ll talk about the indigenous history of the Tavaputs Plateau.

We’re holding this gathering because we realize we have much to learn from other regional movements. We also realize that sharing stories with one another empowers all of us to take bolder action for a just and liveable future. Please join us in strengthening the regional network of people committed to keeping this little planet of ours alive through the deep work of conversation—sharing our experiences, fears, and, yes, joys, as we talk about what resistance means to us and what gives us hope for the region we love so much.

We will announce the specific camp site closer to the date, but it will be in the PR Springs area. Those of us living on the plateau this summer have discovered a variety of beautiful sites to camp that we are excited to share with you all. We’ll post signs prior to the event to make sure everyone can easily find it.

Breakfasts and dinners will be provided; bring your own lunches and snacks.

Please email tarsandsresist@riseup.net with any questions!

Sept. 12-15: Join Trans & Women Organizers on the Plateau

TWOP long photo

Where: The Book Cliffs of so-called Eastern Utah
When: Sept. 12-15, 2014
RSVP by emailing tarsandsresist@riseup.net (this will help us coordinate carpooling, food, and allow us to give you directions to the camp site).

Utah Tar Sands Resistance is opening up the camp on the East Tavaputs Plateau, and site of the permanent vigil, to host for the community of Trans and/or Wemyn to create intimacy/relationships with the precious, fragile, NEVER sacrificable land and people.

We believe that developing authentic relationships between peoples and with the land will strengthen our community. The word authentic means genuine and original, shown to be true and trustworthy, sharing the sense of actuality. The Trans and/or Wemoon gathering will create space for participants to connect with deeper emotions through learning how to communicate and be present in life with vulnerability and compassion.

Intimacy is the ability to share oneself clearly with another, to allow another to know some of what self-knowledge has revealed. Self-disclosure calls for a willingness to let an outsider into one’s personal space. Openness and freedom are also needed, for inti­macy involves risk and leaves a person vulnerable. Confidence and comfort with one’s own identity permits sharing parts of self with another. To establish any level of intimacy in a relationship requires knowledge of that other person over multiple moments so that some degree of trust can be built. A healthy individual has many people from whom to draw. These people form a person’s support network and are available to support the different aspects of one’s life. They provide positive resources in the moments of crisis as well as a necessary context to maintain a healthy way of life.

We are interested in all types of workshops, skill shares and group or partner discussions that will deepen our communities relationships with the earth and aid in healing our wounds. We are decentralizing this gathering which means we will figure out daily activities/workshops at the encampment. We do seek tree climbing skills such as knots/harness/gear/self check and ascending/descending. We seek compassionate communication skill shares. We seek discussion and actions that can help improve action planning.

At the encampment we will discuss Tree Climbing Camps that are being proposed throughout spring 2015 on the Plateau when proposed construction of the Tar Sands Mine is scheduled. We will discuss and see if there is interest in a Trans and/or Womyn Climb Camp as one of the series of Climb Camps throughout spring.

In preparation for the proposed Tree Climbing Camps on the Plateau we will be having a Direct Action training camp (Building Relationships, Security Culture, Affinity Groups, Music in the movement, Rope Safety, How to tie knots, Gear for climbing and acquiring, Introduction to Police Interactions, Aspen Security Group Summary, ??) in the woods of Southwest Colorado, October 3-6.

A Direct Action Training Camp is proposed and needs support near so called “Denver” during March Spring Break. We need organizers, participants and skill sharers to create encampments possible please reach out to us.

Please come ready to participate and contribute in the ways that aid in your healing. We hope for people to reach out to others and the land on an individual and group basis. We are seeking donations and contributions of all kinds. Donations of food and climbing gear are appreciated. IF you are able to shuttle supplies from so called “Denver” and/or “Grand Junction” to the encampment that will be appreciated.

We DO want to disclose that this is a permanent vigil site with participants steadily flowing in and out and no one is turned away based on their identity. There will be separate camping space for those who DO NOT identify as trans and/or wemon from september 11-16.

Visit twac.wordpress.com for glossary of terms, similar events, resources

Visit tarsandsresist.org for more information on the permanent vigil

Frogs in Action Against Tar Sands!

frog meme copy

Inspired by friends taking a halt to tar sands mining in Utah for years, we frogs sprung into action this morning. At 8AM, just before the work crew arrived, we hopped out of the woods and helped a comrade u-lock their neck to the front gate of the area where machinery is stored.

Our friend had also covered themselves with tar sands to symbolize how millions of frogs and other animals downriver—humans included—would be impacted by tar sands mining. Today we take a stand for all the living beings down the Colorado River who would be poisoned by tar sands toxins and who’s water would be stolen by industry.

We come from various downriver habitats that would be severely impacted. Our journey here symbolized the mass migrations that so many species have been forced to endure. Braving the desert dryness and heat helped us to realize more deeply what it is like to be an endangered or threatened species with nowhere left to go.

Our action followed on the heels of a human-lead action that halted work for most of an afternoon last Wednesday. (insert hyperlink)

When workers approached the gate, they were clearly confused. Our comrade told them we would not allow work to happen today, to which  they replied, “But you’re a frog.” They debated among themselves about calling the cops, but ultimately decided against it. We imagined the 911 call: “Officer, we have a frog situation…”

Work began late that morning after they decided to extract our friends on their own, but we all felt it was a win. Tar sands resistance happens not just in big, high-profile action camps, but in repeated daily acts that challenge the powerful and take a stand for all living beings. Maybe next time it will be the chipmunks or the rabbits rising up, and when they do, we will be right there, on the front-lines, with them.

Ribbits and Solidarity,
The Frogs

Colorado Plateau Resistance shuts down tar sands mine construction


Utah Tar Sands Resistance received information regarding a direct action that took place at the US Oil Sands strip mine construction site. These folks are bad ass!

The group released the following video and below the video, a communique:

The Colorado Plateau and its inhabitants are under invasion on multiple fronts of the energy industry. This tar sands mine is a bloody blip in a bigger scheme threatening this land, including the reopening of uranium mines that have poisoned indigenous communities for generations; the planned construction of a nuclear generator in Green River, Utah; violent and vast scraping of the land and squandering of sacred water in pursuit of lowest-grade fuel sources like tar sands and oil shale; a new “oil” refinery in Green River perhaps to centralize production and distribution of those super-toxic tar sands and oil shale fuels; and all of this paid for and made possible by the dangerous fracking boom, which is poisoning our air and water and killing the most vulnerable members of our communities, our babies and old people. This second Big Buildup of the Colorado Plateau is similar to the first Big Buildup of the 20th Century, which fostered disastrous projects like the Glen Canyon Dam, the Navajo Generating station, and the Peabody coal mine at Black Mesa; this second Big Buildup of the Colorado plateau also resembles the initial conquering and genocide of this land by the American government and white settlers. In those prior historical times and today, masters of industry and thus colonialism must control the land and subjugate its people in order to consolidate the wealth of the land in the hands of very few white elites. Their most powerful weapons are and always have been racism and patriarchy and their value system is heartless capitalism. We are forever in contempt of their scheme. This energy industry is a murderous syndicate whose business plans for the future entail the destruction of life on the planet via climate-change catastrophes and crises. Now is the time for all who have something to contribute to give all that you can to the final shut-down of projects like the US Oil Sands tar sands mine and all the many tentacles sucking the life of the Colorado Plateau and Grand Mother Earth herself.

“The U.S. Oil Sands proposed project is located on land straddling the boundary of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.”

Land defenders shut down work for a full week at U.S. Oil Sands tar sands strip-mine in Utah last month, after learning that the project is actually located on land straddling the boundary of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. As such, the EPA has jurisdiction to require further permitting, and even shut the project down all together. Call the EPA at 1-800-227-8917 and tell them “no tar sands in Indian country!”

USEPA to USOS 06182014001 USEPA to USOS 06182014002

We’d like to highlight this part of the letter, as it does not bode well for the future of U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands strip-mine:

“Regarding your question concerning jurisdiction, the U.S. Oil Sands proposed project is located on land straddling the boundary of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. Portions of the proposed project in Township 15S, Range 23E, Sections 35 and 36 are on the north side of the boundary and are within the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, while the parts in Township 15S, Range 24E, Sections 31 and 32 would be outside of the reservation. Land located within Uintah and Ouray Reservation is Indian country, as that term is defined at 18 U.S.C. 1151 and as held in Ute Indian Tribe v. Utah  114 F.3d 1513 (10th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1107 (1998). Please note that as defined by 18 U.S.C. 1151, Indian country includes all reservation lands, including lands owned by non-members of the relevant tribes. The EPA implements federal environmental programs in Indian country, unless it has explicitly approved a tribe or a state to do so. The EPA has not approved the Ute Indian Tribe or the state of Utah to implement any federal environmental regulatory program on Indian country within the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.”

On July 22nd, John Andrews, chief general counsel for SITLA (the state agency that leased the land to U.S. Oil Sands in the first place), even confirmed that part of the project is within the boundaries of the historic Uncompahgre Indian Reservation.

The Vigil Continues

hard hat

A mass action camp here at PR Springs just ended last week, culminating in an ongoing week-long work shut-down for US Oil Sands. The energy of the 70+ participants from around the region amplified the resolve of our permanent presence to halt tar sands mine construction and foster new relationships with allies we can call upon in the future. While some friends have gone back to their various homes, we as a group feel more committed to defending this place than ever — and we aren’t going anywhere.

We’re also enjoying getting to know a new corner of this vast and beautiful land, a high spot near the edge of the sweeping green canyons of the Book Cliffs. Forested canyons plunge down into larger canyons that meet up with bigger canyons still, forming the behemoths that lead down to the plains some thousands of feet below. Groves of scrub oak give us shelter from the wind, and blood-red sunsets over the high desert mark the end of our days, leading into new moon nights of pure darkness scattered with flashes of far-off lightning storms. To the north, we can see the long-abandoned tar sands mine where we’ve observed a black bear scavenging
for food in the tar seeps, and beyond it, the rubble of U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands test pit. Being here affirms for us that we are not just here to protect our beloved PR Springs canyon, where we so often stay, but the vast and diverse habitats that stretch through the entirety of this land.

Sitting above the sprawling web of canyons that seem to bear up the plateau on the spines of their strong backs reminds me that each one is slightly or sometimes dramatically different, filled with different species and relationships between them, different patterns in how plants, animals, and fungi move through the world and down the canyon slopes. Some are sandy desert gardens, where bright green oaks and wildflowers pop out of sandstone outcrops; others are thickets of Douglas fir, Ponderosa, & Piñon. Every day I feel blessed to be here, and I have no interest in
going back to town. The plateau needs us, and we will do our best to fulfill the commitment we have made to this land, which has already given us so much.

If you want to get to know this amazing land and take part in the vigil, email tarsandsresist@riseup.net

Video: Work stopped ALL WEEK at tar sands strip mine!

On Monday, July 21, a mass mobilization following a week-long action camp halted construction at U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands strip mine all day. But those of us maintaining a permanent presence in the area under threat noticed something else: work on the site they’ve been bulldozing hasn’t resumed since then.

U.S. Oil Sands has suffered a shock on two fronts this week: popular resistance, and the legal realm. The face that mass numbers of people from Utah and around the region are taking decisive action to halt the project certainly must alarm company reps and investors. Equally alarming is the EPA’s recent revelation that part of the area U.S. Oil Sands is currently bulldozing is actually Indian country, destroyed without any permission or even notification to the tribe.

Aside from the Ute Tribe’s own permitting, the EPA has its own permitting process that U.S. Oil Sands must attempt to navigate. And having already destroyed the land it had no legal right to, the company may now have quite a mess to clean up.

Meanwhile, Living Rivers and Western Resource Advocates, the groups that have been working through the courts to halt the mining, are moving forward with a case that’s stronger than ever. And those of us on the group are watching, documenting, getting ready for the next wave of action, and crying out as loudly as we an about the injustice of what is happening here.

National Environmental Groups Stand With Utah Land Defenders

This week, twenty-one people were arrested while engaging in peaceful civil disobedience in protest of a controversial proposed tar sands mine in northeastern Utah, which would threaten local land and water, as well as contributing to the global climate crisis. As they await charges, national environmental organizations expressed their solidarity with the protesters who stood for our freedom from dirty fossil fuels and devastating climate impacts.

“This could be the first large-scale tar sands strip mining in the Unites States, and this filthy industry threatens our air, water and wildlife,” said Valerie Love, No Tar Sands Campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity, who was one of the 21 arrested at the site.  “We staged our protest on behalf of the millions of people who will be affected by this dirty fossil fuel mining. Over 40 million people and many wildlife species depend on this watershed. We need to say no to tar sands mining.”

SONY DSCRainforest Action Network stands in solidarity with the Utah anti-tar sands protestors whose commitment to protecting our air, water and climate—at the expense of their own freedom—is inspiring,” said Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network. “Our movement is already working hard to prevent the Keystone XL from delivering tar sands oil across our borders; we can’t allow the practice itself to be imported to our cherished wild places. We applaud the local Utah campaigners for fighting to stop the first-ever tar sands mine in the United States.”

“Tar sands are the dirtiest fuel on the planet. By shining a spotlight on these dangerous projects, protestors in Utah are doing the world a service–they deserve our support, not jail time. If the government won’t act to keep tar sands in the ground, then the people will. The power of nonviolent direct action has helped block tar sands pipelines and mines from Nebraska to Maine to Alberta. This resistance is strategic, it’s effective, and it’s ultimately going to carry the day,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the brave people in Utah who are risking themselves to protect us all,” said Luísa Abbott Galvão, of Friends of the Earth. “We’ve seen from Canada that tar sands production is incompatible with environmental sustainability, land rights, and the public health.”

SONY DSC“Mining tar sands in Utah would be disastrous for local communities and the water, and would be a major setback for the country’s efforts to stop climate change,” said Kendall Mackey, National Tar Sands Organizer for Energy Action Coalition. “Youth activists across the country stand with those opposing tar sands mining in Utah and stand ready to use our political and financial power to stop it.”

“Tar sands is the dirtiest source of oil on the planet.  We’ve seen the destruction being caused by tar sands everywhere–from the strip mines in Canada to the ruptured pipelines that dump tar sands crude into American waterways and neighborhoods,” said Marion Klaus, a Sierra Club volunteer leader who lives in Utah. “The Sierra Club stands with citizens everywhere who are fighting dirty fossil fuels and getting to work creating the clean energy prosperity this country needs.”

SONY DSC“The Utah 21 are not alone.  These brave and principled nonviolent activists are only the most recent to take their turns on the front lines against extreme energy extraction and for a safe climate and clean energy future. Many have preceded them and more will surely follow.  Our movement is already winning as we have effectively limited tar sands production by blocking its export out of North America.  The oil industry and the Obama and Harper governments should expect more protests, marches, and civil disobedience until energy policy is brought in line with what climate science demands – anything less is climate denial which we, and activists around the country, will not tolerate” said Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International.

“Greenpeace stands in solidarity with the brave activists who have put their freedom on the line to prevent the construction of the first-ever US tar sands mine. We can’t hope to solve the climate crisis if we continue to extract and burn the dirtiest fuels on the planet. In the face of devastating droughts, floods, and fires, non-violent direct action is a necessary tool to confront injustices where governments and corporations have failed to act,” said Gabriel Wisniewski of Greenpeace.

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Utah Tar Sands

UPDATE: ALL 21 LAND DEFENDERS HAVE BEEN RELEASED.

After a massive direct action protest today at the site of U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands strip-mining site, a total of 21 were arrested and are currently awaiting charges at Uintah County Jail in Vernal, Utah. In addition to protestors, those acting as legal observers, independent media, and jail support were arrested, as well as several indigenous and trans individuals whose safety we are deeply concerned about.

Early this morning land defenders locked themselves to equipment being used to clear-cut and grade an area designated for the tar sands’ companies processing plant, as well as a fenced “cage” used to store the equipment. Others formed a physical blockade with their bodies to keep work from happening, and to protect those locked-down to the equipment. Banners were also hung off the cage that read: “You are trespassing on Ute land” and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.”

13 people were arrested for locking to equipment. An additional six people were arrested after sitting in the road to prevent the removal of those being taken away in two police vans. Two of the protesters arrested were injured. One was taken a nearby hospital to be treated, while the other is being treated at the Uintah County Jail. The nature of their injuries is not being disclosed by the county sheriffs.

Two additional people were arrested when they arrived at Uintah Country Jail to provide support to the land defenders inside. An estimated 10 armed deputies with police dogs were standing outside the jail wearing bullet proof vests. Those at the jail to provide support were told that the deputies were there to “deter” any supporters from actually coming to the jail.

Currently all 21 individuals are still being processed and held.

Support these brave land defenders who put their hearts and bodies on the line by donating to their legal fund.

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PRESS RELEASE: Opponents to enforce shutdown of tar sands mine today

July 21, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Opponents to enforce shutdown of tar sands mine today

PR SPRINGS, Utah–About 80 climate justice land defenders right now are using their bodies to halt construction of a tar sands strip mine in the Book Cliffs of Utah.

The action is the culmination of a week-long direct action training camp within 2 miles of the mine. Participants of Climate Justice Summer Camp travelled from numerous organizations, states and sovereign tribal nations to learn direct action skills and build networks.

In recent weeks, Calgary, Canada-based US Oil Sands began a new and devastating phase in construction of the first tar sands mine in the United States. Nearly 80 acres of forest and sage land have been leveled.

US Oil sands has construction permits on 212 acres of pristine wilderness and strip mine land leases on 32,000 acres. Opponents say the traditional Ute hunting lands leased by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Land Administration are too fragile and damage would be irreversible.

Numerous states and local governments question the wisdom of tar sands and oil shale projects in the Colorado River Basin. That system—which provides drinking water to 40 million people in the US, Mexico and native communities—is already severely over-tapped and endangered by industrial waste contaminants.

“Indigenous people’s sacred lands for hundreds of generations here would be destroyed after a few generations of American settler colonialism,” says Jessica Lee, on behalf of the land defenders. “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.”

The United States Environmental Protection Agency this month joined the crowd demanding answers from the tar sands company. EPA’s letter indicates US Oil Sands may need tribal authorization for their project due to lease acres bordering and sometimes occurring in “Indian country.”

EPA also has concerns about toxic and hazardous waste from the project. The construction site is immediately upstream of one of the major river systems of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, the stunning Willow Creek Canyon area. The company has never sought Ute Tribal Government approval.

What is Climate Justice?

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