US Oil Sands PR Springs project sits idle.

Daily observation shows  a lot of nothing really happening at the PR Springs tar processing factory and the million dollar machines that are yet to actually work. The 99 acres including the beloved Children’s Legacy camp site are cleared of visible life and the tar layers are exposed even some “ore” has been collected and piled at the bottom of a giant conveyor belt that never moves. A few workers are on site. No longer needed is the 25 person bus from vernal that arrived every weekday last summer. 2 or 3 vehicles arrive on some days and work in the factory compound. No activity is happening at the mine pit.

USOS has disclosed the lack of funds and inability to actually operate its process for 30 days as most recently promised and expects to operate for 5 days to show it can. But can it? USOS has been just about to produce oil since 2008. They have paid the corporate heads a lot of money over the years and spent a lot on the “factory” and mine but no oil has been produced. This is a victory for Earth!

My research reveals a lucrative scam that has been enriching some and harming most for many years. There are key players and paid politicians who have been perpetuating the get rich pipe dream.

The truth is tar sands or oil shale strip mining, upgrading into a use-able fuel and delivering to a viable market at a profit is a far off pipe dream in Eastern Utah.

One can take a look at Canada and the reality of tar sands mining in Alberta to understand the amount of infrastructure and energy involved in the commercial production of oil. Literally billions of dollars were spent on the mines, factories and infrastructure to deliver the tar before ANY profit was returned on the investment.
Even though policy makers in Utah have repeatedly claimed there is more oil here than in Saudi Arabia the reality is that the tar sands and oil shale are rocks and sand mixed with bitumen or kerogen, lacking the water molecules present in Athabasca tar sands and cannot be extracted the same way it has been done in Canada. Several attempts have been made and many false claims have been repeated by various start ups and even a few big oil names over the years yet none of these hopefuls have made any commercial product.
On the other hand the history shows a poor regulatory effort including out right instructions in the record of how to avoid certain regulatory triggers and admitted failure to enforce clean up or “reclamation” policies, revolving doors from corporate to government and back, boom and bust cycles with real folks loosing their jobs and more plus real scum bags paying them selves big salaries for running these great scams.

We continue to resist tar sands and oil shale development by exposing the scams.

The Protest Must Go On!

buck-donate-smalll

We were shocked to see that our free speech banners we put up last week were stolen from the public right of way in front of the nasty tar factory being constructed at PR Springs Utah.  The banner “No pipelines! No Stripmines! Utah Land Defenders support Standing Rock and Red Warrior Camp was stolen along with “stripmines Trash Everything”

img_9757

In an effort to keep up the fight and our spirits we put up more banners.

img_0192

Saturday September 24th at PR Springs Utah

A new banner was placed at Children’s Legacy Overlook near the southern edge of the freshly stripped forest known affectionately as the “Children’s Legacy Camp”  UTSR decided to move our vigil to this overlook near the road as the weather is changing and it is preferable to have a more sunny location.  Around 5pm on saturday  about 1 hour after we arrived and began to set up our tents an unmarked vehicle pulled in (which I had seen on the ridge parked, where you can look at our camp in PR Canyon with binoculars, several times since Friday afternoon) and identifying one of us by name said this nonsense:

“Your XXX right?” You can’t be here I know that you know that this is trust lands because you have been arrested here before.”

UTSR: “Who are You?”

The man said “I am Jason Christensen, I am an investigator for the Uintah county prosecutor”

UTSR: “So why are you talking to us?”

Jason: “I am a peace officer, I have no authority in Grand County but I am doing my personal duty.”

UTSR: “Personal duty? What is a personal duty?”

Jason; “you don’t have personal time?”

UTSR: “your up here on your personal time?”

Jason: “I’m not going to argue with you I’m calling the Grand County Sheriff!”

He does I listen (LOL) we are not actually trespassing.

Jason “i’ve got pictures of you”

He drives to the county line 500 feet away and parks where he can watch us. A fully camo dressed man with a covered face drives by on a 4 wheeler pulls over and says “whats going on?” we say “we are protesting the strip mine” and he says “did we drive there?”  “No we are on bikes!” he says but did you drive here?” we say “do you see a car?” There is none  LOL!!! This makes him mad. He leaves and goes to hang out with Jason. I deem him a “Cop Sucker”

We gather up wood, make a big fire and enjoy an amazing sunset across the stripped land. Another unmarked police vehicle drives by from the Uintah county side and takes more pics with a long lens. He turns around after awhile and comes back towards us he swerves and covers his face to avoid being photographed by us.

No one ever shows up from Grand County. We make sure to stay up late and flash our lights on the mine pit so the Uintah co cops have something to do. They keep watch till well after dark.

On Sunday morning , a bike ride over to the Pig Pen ( a fenced in trailer for the cops to sleep in, Uintah county built onto the side of the US Oil Sands tar processing plant fence line), reveals that the Uintah Cops have gone home to Vernal. The new banner and protest camp can be seen from Seep Ridge Road and many folks drive by who are here hunting and recreating in this remote wilderness.

Many tears have been shed over the loss of  Children’s Legacy Camp and its thriving ecosystem. We will continue to witness and grieve for every leaf of every tree, every single fly, spider, mouse and bear and everything in between we will speak of them, and think of them and honor them, as the precious beings that we know they are. Our banners and protest continue to exist.

img_0242img_0343

Utah Land Defenders support Standing Rock and Red Warrior Camp!

Utah Tar Sands Resistance and other Utah Land Defenders painted and placed a banner near the gate to the tar sands processing plant at PR Springs Utah, in the remote Book Cliffs, on the Ute’s Uncompahgre Reservation.

No Pipelines! No Stripmines! Utah Lnad Defenders support Standing Rock and Red Warrior Camp

No Pipelines! No Stripmines! Utah Land Defenders support Standing Rock and Red Warrior Camp

We say NO Pipelines! NO Stripmines! in North Dakota, or Utah! in solidarity with all of the brave persons and other beings who are on the front lines at the Sacred Stone Camp, Red Warrior Camp, and Oceti Sakowin Camp in so called North Dakota.

We respect and admire the call to protect the water at Standing Rock.

We call on others to take action and protect the water where ever you live.

Read more about Standing Rock:

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/09/13/solidarity-standing-rock

 

 

 

US Oil Sands begins grinding tar at Children’s Legacy Camp

10 continuous miner summer test

Update from the Vigil at PR Springs

We began hearing the horrible sounds of earth scraping and grinding at the site of our beloved Children’s Legacy camp on Aug 8th . On further investigation we can see from the road a new piece of equipment moving and scraping at the exposed tar layer. US Oil Sands has begun doing earth moving and strip mine activities in Grand County Utah, where debris is entering the air stream and insufficient erosion controls allow water to move off the site and into Main Canyon. There is very frequently strong winds on seep ridge and dust is spreading all day. Water trucks are being used very rarely.

US Oil Sands (USOS) is today scraping tar at the Children’s Legacy camp site. We expect USOS intends to mix this tar with solvents in big tanks and dump the waste in unlined pits in Uintah and Grand counties. The tar processing site is within the Ute Uncompagre Indian Reservation. USEPA is the air and water pollution control authority within the reservation boundaries. No permit has been issued. US Oil Sands is threatening immediate and uncontrolled pollution within Indian country.

Phone USEPA today:

Matthew M. Langenfeld

Tribal Air Coordinator U.S. EPA Region 8

1595 Wynkoop Street

Denver, CO 80202-1129

Langenfeld.matthew@epa.gov

303‐312‐6284

 

Ms. Claudia Smith

Air Program U.S. EPA Region 8

1595 Wynkoop Street

Denver, CO 80202-1129

smith.claudia@epa.gov

(303) 312-6520

Let the EPA know that this environmental injustice cannot continue un-addressed

“Tar sands create unacceptable toxic waste and air pollution.

For this to occur without permits is wrong.”

Us Oil Sands has stated that :

“The Company is in the pre-production stage, anticipating the commencement of bitumen production and sales in Q4 2016.”

HMM! Well they do want to be able to run the big machines and try to demonstrate some actual production so they can sell the whole unprofitable project.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/3975647-utah-oil-sands-best-left-un-mined?ifp=0&v=1469792700.

or get more investors. Public records show they are all most out of money and cannot continue without more money and state funded subsidies. Now is the time to UP the pressure on US Oil Sands.

14 people unreasonably detained for several hours and 10 adults arrested after a nature walk with children

Some content Originally posted on Canyon Country Rising tide
June 11, 2016 3:45PM

Seepridge Road, Uintah County, UT – Ten participants of Utah Tar Sands Resistance’s 4th annual family camp out on the Tavaputs Plateau have been arrested after completing biodiversity studies close to the country’s first tar sands strip-mine. A group of children and adults walked to the wooded area next to the Children’s Legacy camp site to count plants and identify different species, in an area that several members of the group had camped at freely in previous years.

Upon returning to their vehicles they were met by Ronald Barton, Special Agent for the Utah Attorney General’s office who told everyone they could not leave stating he was detaining the group for trespassing on state trust lands.  and even threatened parents with reckless child endangerment. He also instructed a news reporter who had wanted to follow the group that she would be arrested if she attempted to do so.

Near Children’s Legacy camp site, a Canadian company, US Oil Sands is hoping to extract tar sands. They are leasing SITLA land (which is public land).

Shea Wickelson, who led the biodiversity lesson, is a science teacher in Salt Lake City: “I have been camping here with my family for the past four years. Last year, we took some biodiversity data with my son and others. This year we wanted to see how the mining expansion has impacted the area and take new data. We were surprised to see the area so razed because we had read that US Oil Sands was ending development, but it looks like a significant expansion to us. I am disappointed to find out that my family and I are no longer allowed to be on the public land that we have been visiting for the past four years.”

Natascha Deininger of Wasatch Rising Tide: “It’s ironic that local law enforcement is so concerned with protecting industry interests, when the land in question is actually public, and was ultimately stolen from the first nations of this area. It is outrageous that a science teacher is being detained for teaching kids about biodiversity on public land, while US Oil Sands is destroying hopes of a livable future.”

Raphael Cordray of Utah Tar Sands Resistance: “We have a responsibility to the public to document and witness the damage to the area. We are investigating a crime scene and making records of what is happening here, as the decision makers and regulators are ignoring the real concerns about this project.”

for another account of these events see:

Activism

 

 

Formal Complaint and Request for Action Against MCW Energy Group

americafirst-2nd

I submitted this complaint to the following agencies yesterday afternoon.

Utah Division of Air Quality, Utah Division of Water Quality, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, and Utah DOGM Minerals Regulatory Program.

I will post an update when I get some responses.

COMPLAINT:

This letter is a formal complaint and request for action by Raphael Cordray, personally, and behalf, Utah tar Sands Resistance (UTSR).

This complaint alleges that MCW Energy is operating a tar sands processing plant near Vernal in violation of State and Federal environmental laws and regulations. MCW Energy is performing unlawful activity by building and operating a tar processing facility without environmental permits.

My search of public records reveals that no current permits are existing as required by law and for public safety. This Tar Processing facility is adjacent a residential area putting homes and families at risk.

MCW has no Air pollution control permit.

MCW has no Storm Water discharge permit

MCW has no NPDES Process Water discharge permit

MCW has no permit for RCRA Waste Streams yet appears to create RCRA waste streams

There are chemicals and processes on site that require permitting and regulation yet the MCW facilities and tar processing operations are currently unpermitted and unregulated.

MCW stands to gain a huge financial benefit from this illegal activity by placing human health and the environment at risk.  MCW is defrauding investors by making numerous false claims on their website.

MCW has used public leaders including, Kevin Van Tassel and Governor Herbert to create an illusion of legitimacy for this illegal project.

I am aware that a Right Of Entry (ROE) permit 6166 was issued to MCW on February 2nd by SITLA.  I also reviewed the related “Final Agency Action” letter from Kevin Carter of SITLA to MCW dated Nov. 17 2015.

ROE 6166 executed contract

I am concerned about the content of the ROE.  The ROE claims to authorize the dumping of process water by MCW tar processing facility in unlined pits on the site.  Where is the public process and proper environmental impact research in an ROE?  A tar sands factory needs more than an ROE to operate yet state of Utah records indicate that MCW has been operating illegally on this site for years.

The ROE permit 6166 states:

“SITLA authorizes and approves Permittee’s use, storage and disposal of Produced Water on the Permitted Property.”

SITLA does not regulate produced water. How & Why are they “authorizing” it?

We request that you take immediate action and close this illegal operation.  We demand that the environmental impacts to our air, water and the land from this toxic experiment be disclosed and addressed. We formally request that  ALL relevant laws and rules be effectively applied and enforced to this project.

Please contact me if you need any further information.

I look forward to your responses.

Sincerely,

Raphael Cordray, personally and for,

Utah Tar Sands Resistance

We’ve Moved Our Vigil to SITLA!

BREAKING: Utah Tar Sands Resistance has moved our protest vigil to SITLA, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, located in downtown Salt Lake City!

IMG_0109

That’s right, we rolled in with our water barrels, tents, and banners, and set up shop at high noon today.

Join us if you can. Bring food or coffee, and it will be a party.

IMG_0113

IMG_0110

IMG_0112

 

SITLA's dirty work banner

Read the press release:

Utah Tar Sands Resistance
Stages 24-Hour Vigil on Lawn of SITLA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 21, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY, UT: On October 21 at noon, members of Utah Tar Sands Resistance and supporters launched a 24-hour vigil in front of SITLA (School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration) in Salt Lake City. This summer and fall, beginning in mid-May, they have been holding an ongoing protest encampment in the Book Cliffs of eastern Utah, at the site where US Oil Sands is attempting to start the first commercial tar sands mine in the U.S. Now, they have brought their protest to the front doors of the agency responsible for leasing the lands, SITLA, located at 500 S/700 E, Salt Lake City.

The group chose to launch their vigil the day before SITLA’s next board meeting, which will take place at 9 a.m. on October 22. SITLA’s board is stacked with developers chosen by the governor, and its decisions to lease land for the world’s dirtiest energy sources—like tar sands and oil shale—stand in stark contrast to its mandate to never sacrifice short-term gains for the long-term wellbeing of Utah’s children.

In reality, SITLA contributes just 1–2% of the public schools’ budget. What do SITLA’s choices actually give the residents of Utah? The high rate of infant mortality in the Uintah Basin and the red air days in the Salt Lake Valley during which children and pregnant women are told to stay indoors, for starters. Human health will be jeopardized even more if the world’s dirtiest projects are allowed to take root in Utah. Along with decimated ecosystems, dwindling watersheds, and climate chaos, these realities show that SITLA’s choices are giving our children a toxic and frightening future, leaving them to cope with previous generations’ mistakes.

Jill Merritt, a mother of four and a grandmother, says, “SITLA’s choices put my grandchildren and future generations in grave danger, leaving them with a world torn apart by climate chaos, poisoned rivers, and toxic air. We call on SITLA to immediately rescind their leases for tar sands and oil shale, and start focusing on the long-term wellbeing of our children.”

Utah Tar Sands Resistance encourages all concerned members of the public to join them in standing up for a livable future. Their vigil is a family-friendly environment that they hope will serve as a public forum in which people can discuss their concerns about the management of public lands and resources. They will be recording stories on the site for a video project on this issue, and they invite kids, parents, and other members of the public to come share about their concerns for the environment and their love of Utah’s public lands.

Our 2015 Permanent Protest Vigil Has Launched!

Two weeks ago, tar sands resisters returned to the East Tavaputs Plateau to set up an ongoing protest vigil on the land leased for tar sands extraction. We came to witness, to document, to show people the land and inspire them to stand against tar sands, oil shale, and all extreme extraction.

We are now excited to tell the world that we’re back, and we’re not leaving until US Oil Sands gives up and goes home.

IMG_1263 (1)

 

In this remote area of the Book Cliffs, a start-up company called US Oil Sands has leased 32,000 acres of land managed by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) for tar sands mining. Based in Alberta, Canada, US Oil Sands is a striking example of how corporations pay no mind to the same borders through which regular people are so often denied access. The company says it plans to begin commercial production in late 2015.

Tar sands mining would turn this lush wilderness into a bleak moonscape of gray rubble. It would level the canyons teeming with life, and send toxins into the waterways that feed the Colorado River, which 40 million people rely on for survival. And because tar sands refining is an incredibly dirty process–even compared to refining of regular crude–it would also pump toxins into the air of people in Salt Lake City. All this would support the production of a low-grade fuel that would never even be feasible without heavy subsidies, because it takes much more energy to extract than regular crude.

UTSR Vigil 2Last year, our ongoing protest vigil lasted through US Oil Sands’ work season, from mid-May through late October. We hosted numerous groups and individuals at our public gatherings, giving people tours of the land and inviting them to become part of the popular resistance against tar sands mining and for a livable future.

We’re thrilled to be returning to the land we love so deeply. It’s a land with a rich history, part of the Uintah Ute Band’s homeland and their traditional hunting grounds. It’s a land filled with bears, cougars, coyotes, and countless other species. So far this year, we’ve seen deer, elk, turkeys, and a coyote. And lately, it’s been a land of rolling thunder and sudden downpours, but fortunately we spent last summer practicing our tarping skills. 

Please DONATE to this effort to help make our protest vigil a huge success!

Things seemed quiet on US Oil Sands’ work site at first, though we witnessed some activity this week. We know it’s awfully hard for those big machines to work on muddy ground–the East Tavaputs Plateau has been holding her own against the ongoing violence enacted against her.

IMG_1182

 

This vigil–and the many direct actions that various groups and individuals have taken against the tar sands mine–are necessary because we don’t seem likely to win this battle through the court system. On June 12, 2014, the EPA issued an order to US Oil Sands demanding that they gain additional permitting to deal with stormwater runoff before continuing with their project, because they are operating on an area deemed “Indian Country” under federal law. The company continued bulldozing, and nobody made them stop–that is, until 80 folks took direct action in July, shutting them down for a week. But during that action, the police worked to arrest the folks taking action and protect the company, paying no mind to the fact that they were operating illegally.

Living Rivers is pursuing a legal challenge to the mine. Their first case was dismissed on a technicality by the Utah Supreme Court in June 2014, but they recently filed another suit that cites more recent evidence of how US Oil Sands would pollute the watershed of the Green and Colorado Rivers. We fully support Living Rivers and believe this is necessary work, but we aren’t banking on the court system–and we hope you aren’t either.

IMG_1193 (1)

 

Back at the home front, we’ve been preparing for upcoming gatherings like the June 19-21 Intergeneration Campout. We look forward to sharing this summer and fall with new and old friends, witnessing all the plateau’s seasons along with the growth of our vibrant community of resistance. We hope to see you soon on the East Tavaputs Plateau!

IMG_1153

 

Please DONATE to this effort! Thank you for all of your help and support.

 

Words too powerful for the court?

We had prepared and arranged for one of the defendants to give a customary statement to the court on behalf of the defendants about why they did what we did, why we do what we do, and why we must continue.  The judge denied us his audience.  Instead this statement was read to the news media outside the courtroom. 

The Moral Imperative to Halt Tar Sands Mining

Last summer, twenty-five people were arrested for participating in acts of civil disobedience to halt construction of U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands mine. We felt we had no choice but to take such action because of the blatant human rights violations that tar sands mining causes.

Tar sands is essentially naturally occurring asphalt. Extracting a low-grade oil out of it demands a tremendous amount of energy and water, making it a massive contributor to climate change as well as water and air pollution. Separating the bitumen from the rock mobilizes dangerous toxins that are present in substantial amounts, like mercury and arsenic.

In Canada, where tar sands mining has destroyed an area the size of Florida, it has polluted the Athabasca River with substances causing cancer, birth defects, and mutations in parts per trillion.

Indigenous people in the community downriver are getting rare cancers at an alarming rate, with cases occurring at a 30% higher rate than expected. Marginalized communities typically face the most severe environmental injustices, and we fear that this will be the case for indigenous communities who rely on the Colorado River and live downstream from the tar sands mines.

These communities are already dealing with many violations of their human rights from uranium extraction, water depletion, and a multitude of other issues. Their right to health, along with that of the 40 million water drinkers who rely on the Colorado, is being sacrificed for corporate profit. The same will happen to those in the airshed of the mining area and the refineries in Salt Lake City where the bitumen is expected to be processed.

Tar sands mining also uses copious amounts of water. The state of Utah takes at face value U.S. Oil Sands’ claims that it will use minimal water, when every tar sands project in existence uses massive amounts of water. Meanwhile, U.S. Oil Sands is already using precious deep aquifer water for its operations—water that should be reserved for sustaining life in a drying world. It has been well-documented that the Colorado’s flow is steadily dwindling, due to catastrophic climate change, which tar sands mining itself exacerbates. We can’t allocate more water to industrial use when the river has less water to give every year. We need to think of all the people downriver who rely on that water for sustenance. Because 15% of our nation’s food is grown using Colorado River water, giving more of our water to industry would endanger our food security as well.

Further, catastrophic climate change is real. Virtually all of the scientific community accepts it, yet our government continues to permit and subsidize projects that send us further toward climate collapse. Tar sands has a more detrimental climate impact than just about any other project, producing three times as much greenhouse gas as regular crude. It doesn’t matter if the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) manages to raise 2% of the public school budget this year if we’re leaving our children with a doomed world.

Once the land is strip-mined, its complex ecosystems will take perhaps centuries to return. We believe we must not leave a vast area of the East Tavaputs Plateau a tar sands wasteland. Despite U.S. Oil Sands’ claims, there is no way they can bring the land back with anything close to the complexity of this diverse high desert and canyon ecosystem. We maintain that corporations have no right to destroy places like Utah’s Book Cliffs forever.

On June 12, 2014, the EPA issued a directive to U.S. Oil Sands saying that USOS needs additional permitting because the strip mine is on traditional Uintah and Ouray Reservation land.

Nobody has held U.S. Oil Sands to this requirement—on the contrary, the company has continued clear-cutting, blasting, and bulldozing the land without securing the required permits.

After careful consideration, we came to the conclusion that we have the moral imperative, as residents who rely on the air, water, and land of this region, to protect these resources when our government refuses to serve as steward of them on behalf of the people.

We believe we must protect this land and these resources for future generations. SITLA is entrusted with managing this land for the long-term benefit of the public schools, but instead is sacrificing it for short-term gains, which stands in diametrical opposition to its mission. Over the past several years, we and various other organizations have pursued legal solutions such as a challenge to U.S. Oil Sands’ wastewater dumping permit, discussions with SITLA, and public rallies, to no avail. Our government’s insistence on looking the other way as tar sands strip mining in Utah jeopardizes our future led us to take civil disobedience in order to persuade our government to protect human rights over corporate profits. Only after serious deliberation did we choose to jeopardize our own liberty by using the age-old tactic of nonviolent civil disobedience for the sake of our future and all the generations to come.