Proposal for Transfer of Federal Land Parcels in Uintah County to State of Utah

 

SITLA is seeking a land transfer of 440 acres of BLM land. Consider making a public comment.

Eastern Utah near Enefit proposed oil shale strip mine.

 

Here is the Vernal office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) news release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Heather O’Hanlon July 9, 2018 (801) 539-4129 Proposal for Transfer of Federal Land Parcels in Uintah County to State of Utah Vernal, Utah – School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) has requested title to 440 acres of federal parcels in T11S-R25E, Sections 5, 6, and 8 of Uintah County under the authorities of the Utah Enabling Act of July 16, 1894. Transfer of the parcel would fulfill the intent of the Utah enabling act to support the state’s schools through the land grant managed by the state. The Bureau of Land Management, Vernal Field Office (VFO) has completed an Environment Analysis to analyze the transfer of these lands from BLM to State administration. A 30-day public comment period will open on July 9. “The parcel requested, both surface and subsurface, are isolated from other BLM lands”, said Travis Kern, VFO Manager, “so they are administratively difficult to manage by themselves, and are entirely surrounded by private lands.” The Environmental Assessments are available for review at the following ePlanning links: http://go.usa.gov/xNwRJ. Comments can be added by clicking the “Documents” tab, then click the “Comment on Document” button. Alternately, comments may be submitted by email to BLM_UT_Vernal_Comments@blm.gov or by mail to the following address: BLM-Vernal Field Office, Attn: Stephanie Howard, 170 South 500 East, Vernal, UT 84078. Comments should be postmarked on or before August 9, 2018. For additional information, please contact Stephanie Howard at 435-781-4469. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800- 877-8339 to leave a message or question for the above individual. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Replies are provided during normal business hours.

Public comment document links  

Some pieces are here that I saw from reviewing the Environmental assessment.

This exchange would directly benefit three Enefit related projects involving oil shale development. The parcel is the piece isolated with in this green map showing Enefits current holdings which are private property.

map from Enefit web page land requested for trade is within the green area that Enefit all ready has leases on.

Excerpts from the EA: from page 3

“It has been previously suggested that for several reasons this project is connected to three other projects ongoing near the project area: the Enefit Utility Project, the Enefit Research, Demonstration, and Development (RD&D), and the Enefit South Project. The BLM has reviewed the rationale and made the following determinations: • Common proponent: The proponent for the Indemnity Selection is SITLA. The proponent for the other three projects is Enefit American Oil. There is no common proponent. • Common timing: The Indemnity Selection permit has been submitted to the BLM and is being reviewed under a draft EA. The Utility Project application has already proceeded to a final EIS. The RD&D project has already been already approved. The South Project mining plan has not yet been submitted to the State. There is no common timing. • Common geography: The Utility Project is located northeast of the Indemnity Selection. The RD&D project is north of the Indemnity Selection. The South Project abuts the southeastern corner of the Indemnity Selection. Geography is similar, but not the same. • Common impacts: The impacts of the Indemnity Selection are limited to the administrative action of transferring land and mineral ownership to SITLA, as disclosed in this EA. The impacts of the Utility Project result from surface disturbance associated with the installation of five rights of way of up to 19 miles in length. The impacts of the RD&D project result from testing stockpiled oil shale for development potential. The impacts of the South Project result from strip mining and processing of oil shale. The impacts are not the same. • Common purpose (meaning proponent purpose): SITLA’s purpose for the Indemnity Selection is to have the lands described in the Indemnity Selection classified or otherwise made available for entry or disposition pursuant to their application. Although Enefit has been in communication with SITLA regarding the 440 acres, this disposal does not guarantee development by Enefit. SITLA would be at liberty to lease the land for oil and gas development, sell it, permit livestock grazing on it, or retain it for future development. Enefit’s purposes for the Utility Project is to provide utilities to their private land. Enefit’s purposes for the RD&D is to obtain a preferential right lease to oil shale on federal lands. Enefit’s purposes for the South Project is to develop minerals on their private land. The purposes for the projects are not the same. • Cumulative Actions: 40 CFR 1508.25(a)(2) defines cumulative actions as proposed actions which potentially have a cumulatively significant impact together with other proposed actions and should be discussed in the same NEPA document. Impacts that accumulate with the Indemnity Selection are disclosed in this EA.

The BLM has determined that the Utility Project, RD&D, and South Project are not connected actions to the Indemnity Selection. All four projects are proceeding independently because they do not require the approval of any of the other projects to proceed as proposed. Also, all four projects are subject to different authorities: the Indemnity Selection is subject to 43 CFR 250, the Utility”

 

Page 7 and 8:

“3.2.1 GEOLOGY/MINERALS/ENERGY PRODUCTION The federal government currently owns all mineral rights associated the 440 acres. …. Oil shale is found in the Green River Formation in the Uinta Basin, this formation lies in this parcel. The In Lieu selection project area has areas where the overburden above the oil shale resource is less than or equal to 500 feet, which makes it a geologically prospective oil shale area. The shale under this parcel contains 30 – 40 feet thick of 35 gallons per ton of shale oil (Vanden Berg 2008) (Perkes 2018). The lands were classified as mineral lands by the USGS in 1916, but there is no finding of “Mineral in Character” 1  and there is no Known Oil Shale Leasing Area” established, therefore the BLM does not accept the 1916 mineral land classification. In addition, the In Lieu selection area was not identified in the Programmatic Oil Shale ROD (BLM 2013) as being available for oil shale development. The In Lieu selection area is completely surrounded by land and minerals that are privately owned (see the map in Appendix B). The owner of those lands and minerals has expressed interest in permitting an oil shale strip mine and processing plant through the State of Utah. 

foot note 1 It is my professional opinion that oil cannot be commercially produced from this parcel’s oil shale for the following reasons. 1) There is no commercial production of oil from oil shale currently in the United States including Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. 2) The Rand Corporation, under contact with the U.S. Department of Energy, estimated surface retorting plants (including mining and processing) would unlikely be profitable unless crude oil prices were $70 to $95 per barrel (Bartis, 2005). The BLM used the inflator calculator from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to inflate these 2005 dollars to $91 to $123 (BLS, 2018). In March 2018 the price of oil in 2018 has been between $58 and $72 per barrel per the NASDAQ, 2018). 3) The size of the parcel would not allow independent development because of the lack of reserves to offset necessary financial investment. At a moderate size facility (25,000 barrels per day) there is only about four years’ worth of shale oil resource in the ground of this parcel. The four years estimate does not account for mining and processing losses or for the ramp and box cut that would be necessary to remove the 300 foot overburden but would also substantially reduce the amount of oil shale that could be extracted. Further the four years estimate assumes that processing would happen offsite to avoid a large capital investment because it would not by itself justify expenditures for construction of a primary and secondary treatment facility to remove nitrogen from the shale oil to reach the specifications for conventional oil. Based on these factors the 440 acres is not “Mineral in Character” for oil shale. Perkes, 2018″

From Interdisciplinary Team Checklist Page 2

“There are no known Prehistoric or Native American historic sites within the project area. The following Native American tribes were notified of the proposed undertaking via certified letter: Northwest Band of Shoshone Nation, Goshute Tribe, White Mesa Ute Tribe, Laguna Pueblo Tribe, Santa Clara Pueblo Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Southern Ute Tribe, Ute Mountain Tribe, Zia Pueblo Tribe, and the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. They were asked to identify traditional cultural places or any other areas of traditional cultural importance that need to be considered within the parcel. None of the tribes provided information about known sites or specific religious concerns. However, the Hopi Tribe responded to our inquiry and considers a “exchange of federal lands containing National Register eligible historic properties constitutes an adverse effect” and requests continuing consultation. They would also like to see a cultural survey and report for the proposed area. The Santa Clara Pueblo also responded and would like to be notified if cultural resources will be impacted due to the land exchange. The Ute Tribe responded in a letter dated 8/2/2016 that they did not support the land exchange because the land is within the exterior boundaries of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and assert ownership of those lands. The exchange was also brought up to the Ute Business Committee on 4/24/2017 and they opposed the idea. Per conversation with SITLA and Utah SHPO, cultural inventories and additional consultation related to any proposed development after the exchange are required, pursuant to Utah Code (9-8-404). The State must afford historic properties the same level of protection as would the BLM under Federal law. However, The State of Utah is not required to conduct Tribal Consultation for State managed lands. A literature review of cultural resources within a one mile buffer of the project undertaking will be sent to the Hopi Tribe, Santa Clara Pueblo, and Ute Tribe.”

Resisters and High School students attend SITLA board meeting

A group of concerned persons attended the monthly SITLA board meeting to speak during the public comment period. Here are some videos of folks speaking at the  meeting in November.

 

Four high school students came to speak and ask questions of the Board of Trustees at the monthly meeting of the Schools and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) in Salt Lake City.

Students address SITLA board of trustees

Here is a clip of some High School students in Salt Lake city who took the time to attend this public meeting and ask some questions of the SITLA board of trustees. These students are beneficiaries of the trust. Listen to the board responses.

Posted by Utah Tar Sands Resistance on Wednesday, November 22, 2017


The students asked the board about climate change and the effects for future generations.

Another student asked about SITLA”s role in causing air pollution.

The board was aloof and somewhat condescending to the well informed students who are the beneficiaries of the school lands trust.

The students were from West High School, Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts, Highland High School and The Academy for Math Engineering and Science.

Utah Tar Sands Resistance had 2 speakers and other people of all ages spoke.

SITLA is entrusted with leasing and developing state trust lands for the benefit of primarily the K-12 public education system in Utah. SITLA is constitutionally mandated to generate revenue from trust lands to build and grow permanent endowments for the beneficiaries.

The seven member un-elected board with no direct public accountability and ties to either fossil fuel interests or real estate development are responsible for the management of leases to these trust lands.

The public has many concerns about SITLA. These include individual trustees conflict of interest which can (or has) led to decisions which may benefit board members or their colleagues. Secondly, SITLA’s policy promoting oil shale and tar sand strip-mining has failed. While millions of dollars have been spent, not one barrel of oil has been realized and pristine lands, most of which are within the Uncompahgre reservation boundaries, have been devastated.  Recent failed or failing projects include: US Oil Sands, Red Leaf Resources , Enefit Energy, and MCW Energy (now called Petroteq). Everyone of these projects is unprofitable, un-reclaimed, harmed land, bankruptcies, busted communities have been the legacy so far.

Lonnie Bullard insults his critics and the beneficiaries. Gee …

Later in the meeting after the public comment period ends and the students leave, to return to class I presume, Board member Lonnie Bullard the SITLA board vice chair takes the floor to insult the students and the rest of us who remained.

Posted by Utah Tar Sands Resistance on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mr. Lonnie Bullard a member of the SITLA board of trustees takes time during the monthly meeting to insult the students, who are the beneficiaries of the trust, and the other folks who spoke.  Some of the students who spoke were not even offered chairs in the mostly full room. They were attending the meeting at 9 am likely missing some school classes, to speak during the 10 min public comment period which occurs at the beginning of the 2-3 hour meeting. Mr Bullard insulted the students for leaving before the meeting ended. I pointed out that the students likely had to return to high school. He also criticizes “people who choose to spend the time in tents and on lines” for wanting a magic wand. UTSR did in fact participate in the governors clean energy alliance by suggesting that Utah take tar sands and oil shale development OFF the governors energy plan. Needless to say this proposal was not accepted.

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.

Shutting down the Uintah Basin Energy Summit: “A message to all of you short-sighted killers”

“Disorderly Conduct” by Sidhe, a message to US Oil Sands and other killers

 

 

On Sept. 4th, Utah Tar Sands Resistance interrupted the 2014 Uintah Basin Energy Summit, a yearly conference where tar sands and oil shale speculators are exalted and anyone “not excited” about the destruction of the Book Cliffs is shut out and silenced.

Land defender Sidhe had planned to share her entire poem with the 700 conference goers, but police–already aware of the conference organizers’ insecurities and impatience–would not cede a moment to their dissenters. Sidhe was booked into the Uintah County Jail on suspicion of “disorderly conduct,” an exceedingly fitting charge police could level against the tar sands speculators destroying the planet who were in the room, but alas, the police work for the capitalists, not the people.

“Disorderly Conduct” by Sidhe

A message to all of you short-sighted killers
What kind of world will you leave behind for your children
When you’ve squeezed every last drop of life from the land
With your greed and your murder you’ve wrought with your plans

I’d like to remind you your money means nothing
When the water’s been blackened and the creatures are starving
You toy with a force you do not understand
Your chemicals won’t wash all that blood off your hands

First Nations fight cancer up in Athabasca
Your oil trains are time bombs impending disaster
Your pipelines will leak and your cesspools will sprawl
And your babies are left with the brunt of it all

What of the animals caught in the tar?
What of the forests left clear cut and scarred?
What of those atrocities I didn’t witness?
Like Serafino in Columbia sending assassins
To murder union organizers who stood up and spoke out
In the back of my mind I can still hear them shout
I am made of this land you are made of the same
The planet is dying and you are to blame

Are you proud of yourselves? Look at what you’ve become
Heartless machines, so frigid and numb
So reluctant to think that you may just be wrong
That you hear the dissent and you send in the guns.

VIDEO: Watching U.S. Oil Sands

This summer, as protestors gather at PR Springs, site of the first tar sands mine in the United States, for a permanent protest vigil, they are poised not only to observe the comings & goings of U.S. Oil Sands, the Canadian tar sands company setting up shop, but also to do something about it.

GET INVOLVED:
Donate money & supplies to the Resistance! Help us keep going!
Join us for the Intergenerational Campout, June 20-22
Tar Sands Healing Walk Solidarity Campout, June 27-29

Read the 1st dispatch from the front:
Red Leaf Resources scraping open a new strip mine

STAY TUNED! We’re just getting started, y’all.

Estonian journalist speaks at Enefit / Eesti Energia oil shale test mine in Utah

In January 2014, Estonian journalist Andres Raid of Talinna TV travelled to Utah to investigate his nation’s energy company’s Utah project. What he found was barely a sham test pit and nothing more going on, a scandal of great proportions for his Estonian people.

Estonian’s utility prices have soared under Eesti Energia’s current leadership, debt has gone from €300m in 2011 to €600m today, a balance that credit agencies have noticed. Criticizing Enefit/Eesti Energia’s foolish investments overseas and the expansive debt growth, credit agencies have lower Enefit’s credit rating.

Moreever, Enefit’s test plant in Estonia of turning oil shale into liquid fuel has been a complete waste of time effort and money. So-called Enefit 280–the technology the company claims it will use in Utah, Jordan and elsewhere–isn’t working. A huge plant in Estonia is built but not operational.

Since Raid’s reporting these last two months, sources inside Enefit have told journalists that the Utah oil shale project is on hold indefinitely. But then a Utahn employed by Enefit as a PR flack says that is untrue.

So what is the truth, Enefit? Why don’t you start giving people some answers about Enefit 280, about your soaring debt, about your complete lack of experience turning oil shale into liquid fuel, about the completely disappointing German test results regarding Utah oil shale. Tell us the truth, Enefit–Utahns and Estonians both deserve to hear it.

(You can watch Andres Raid’s story about Enefit’s Utah oil shale project here).

Someone is feeling threatened…

Enefit has responded to the bad press they’ve been receiving.

Well, here is our response to Enefit’s response to the people’s response to their destructive Utah oil shale project:

We know what oil shale is, and we know the difference between it and tar sands. We know how you propose to mine it, and the impact it has. We know you would leave mountains of waste behind, after clear cutting huge pieces of land. We know your project will require government subsidies from both the Utah and Estonian people in order to move forward, and that oil shale has never proven economically viable.

And let us be very clear–when we protest you, it is not a misunderstanding. The only misunderstanding is this: You think your project will move forward. But rest assured: we will stop you.

#StopEnefit #NoOilShale

1555400_708272402550205_485577499_n

Tar Sands Tuesday

TST

Join the Utah Tar Sands Resistance every Tuesday from 3-6PM for an open space meeting to learn about tar sands and oil shale, brainstorm ideas, get involved with the campaign, plan projects, research, make art, and generally have a good time while working to stop the first tar sands mine in the United States.

Tar Sands Tuesday are moving to the Boing! Anarchist Collective House, located at 608 South 500 East.

 

Enefit’s Investment Rating Downgraded “due to challenges associated with development of oil shale activities”

1555400_708272402550205_485577499_n

Utah’s hopeful oil shale miner, Enefit, (aka Estonian Energy) suffers a painful credit rating decrease.

“Moody’s said that the rating action reflects the development of Eesti Energia’s business risk profile in light of the increasing integration of the Baltic and Nordic power markets, coupled with generally weak levels of wholesale power prices and CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF OIL SHALE ACTIVITIES.”

It looks increasingly unlikely that Enefit is able of borrowing what it would need to start oil shale production in the US. Utahns should take note that Rikki Hrencko and the Enefit crew are taking us for a ride–a very costly ride.

We’d like to think Moody’s knew UTSR was in Uintah Basin this week causing trouble and knew we’d leave Enefit in money shambles. Grassroots resistance is one of Enefit’s “challenges associated with the development of oil shale activities.”

Read the full article in The Baltic Course.

Join us this Saturday, January 25th, at 6PM for a discussion on Enefit.
Enefit: Estonian Oil Shale in Eastern Utah?
at the Mexican Federation of Clubs (344 South Goshen Street (1040 West), SLC, UT)

Red Leaf’s Controversial Utah Oil Shale Project Challenged

(Reposted from the Grand Canyon Trust)

aerial-view-of-red-leaf-resources-utah-oil-shale-facility-1024x682

An aerial view of Red Leaf Resources’ Utah oil shale facility. | Photo courtesy Taylor McKinnon (Grand Canyon Trust) and Bruce Gordon (Ecoflight)

For Immediate Release, January 22, 2014

Contact:
Rob Dubuc, Western Resource Advocate, (801) 487-9911
John Weisheit, Living Rivers, (435) 259-1063
Taylor McKinnon, Grand Canyon Trust, (801) 300-2414
Shelley Silbert, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, (970) 385-9577
Tim Wagner, Sierra Club, (801) 502-5450

Controversial Utah Oil Shale Project Challenged

38,000 Public Comments Opposed Plan Threatening Aquifers, Seeps and Springs

SALT LAKE CITY— Oil shale strip mining atop Utah’s Book Cliffs is being challenged by conservation groups. The challenge is a “request for agency action” filed Tuesday, over the ground water discharge permit approved by the Utah Department of Water Quality. The permit, which authorizes Red Leaf Resources to test an oil shale mining facility, lacks measures to prevent or detect surface or groundwater pollution, in violation of state law. More than 38,000 public comments were sent to the Department opposing an earlier draft of the flawed plan.

Continue reading