Uinta Basin Railway Comment Period extended until Feb 12 2021


STB rendering of the proposed Uinta Basin Oil train.


Uinta Basin Railway Comment Period has been extended until Feb 12 2021, and YOU can still add your comment to the Draft EIS. Utah Tar Sands Resistance has been working with the Center for Biological Diversity and others to stop this expensive subsidy. Follow the links below to add your comment. Please share.

Here are some ideas for commenting.

The proposed Uinta Basin Railway would be a train wreck for our air, wildlands, climate and communities. This multi-billion-dollar boondoggle would ruin more than 10,000 acres of habitat for migratory wildlife and endangered species while worsening the climate crisis. 

But you can help stop it.

Rendering of proposed uinta basin oil train

Uinta basin oil train will require several expensive tunnels and numerous stream crossings.

The Surface Transportation Board has released this project’s draft environmental impact statement for review by the public. But the board is only accepting comments until Feb. 12, 2021 so you need to take action now.

The STB states:

“Based on the analysis in the Draft EIS, OEA concludes that construction and operation of any of the alternatives would result in significant environmental impacts. Major impacts would include temporary and permanent impacts on surface waters and wetlands; impacts on biological resources, including federally listed threatened and endangered species and other protected species; permanent changes to land uses on public and private lands; and noise impacts on residences near the proposed rail line during rail operations” Oil and gas extraction are already poisoning the Uinta Basin, harming people and wildlife. The proposed railway would make things much worse — in fact, it could quadruple crude-oil extraction while tearing up habitat for species like the greater sage grouse and endangered Barnaby ridge-cress. 

Tell the Surface Transportation Board to stop the Uinta Basin Railway in its tracks.

Use the links above to comment through the CBD “fast action” page or comment directly here:



Vivakor is scamming SITLA

Public comment to SITLA board of trustees Aug 13 2020.

Raphael Cordray Utah Tar Sands Resistance

Good Morning. I want to tell the board how they are being used to defraud investors and local communities as well as defrauding the Trust through questionable business practices. And I ask you to stop this. SITLA and the board of trustees have a duty to make sure that they and the trust are not being used to generate transactions for pump and dump penny stock scams. SITLA has spent trust money to create an OBA for Viva Ventures Oil Sands LLC. On March 20, 2019, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration Board of Trustees approved this OBA for Viva Ventures Inc. Viva ventures subsequently made a the following paid press release:

“Utah Trust Lands Board Approval Substantially Increases Vivakor Oil Sand Resources LAS VEGAS, NV / ACCESSWIRE / March 25, 2019 / Vivakor, Inc. (OTC PINK: VIVK ), a technology and asset acquisition company with a focus in the area of natural resources, received approval from the Board of Trustees for the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) for a bituminous/Asphaltic sands mineral lease in a 1440 acre area of Eastern Utah known to have enormous heavy crude, bituminous sand deposits. ″We are pleased the SITLA Board unanimously approved this mineral lease, allowing us to work with the State organization in verifying the asset reserve and ultimately deploying our technology on this vast 1440 acre area. We have a great working relationship with them, successfully operating on their properties previously, demonstrating our commitment to the area and the viability of our technology. Our Remediation Processing Centers (RPCs) are the key to unlocking and finally monetizing the literal billions of barrels of heavy crude trapped within sands in Eastern Utah,″ stated Vivakor Chief Executive Officer Matt Nicosia.”


On March 20, 2019 Trent Staggs appeared before the SITLA board and agreed to terms for a special lease with SITLA, he made inaccurate claims and promises to the SITLA board who approved the contract. I understand that Vivakor never signed the contract with SITLA and VIVAKOR is not leasing anything from SITLA.

However the VIVAKOR press release was used to stimulate stock transactions and generate investment and trust in Viva Ventures and Vivakor. This was a classic pump and dump. VIVAKOR issued mis-information to drive up their stock price and then the directors dumped their worthless stock options into the heated market. At the March 20, 2019 SITLA meeting it was shown by a member of the public that Viva Ventures Oil Sands Inc. had an expired business registration and thus was not authorized to do business with SITLA or anyone in Utah. Further questions were raised at the meeting about this transaction by Director Foote and Director Woodbury. however the board still approved the contract. Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs represented Viva Ventures Oil Sands at the public meeting and testified on behalf of the company in their effort to gain approval from the board for an OBA they had no intention of executing. Here is a portion of his statement: “Um I’m here, I’m an elected official in this state. I’m very vested in this community and our our company is as well” …. Most absurdly he claimed they would clean up mother nature’s mess in Eastern Utah:

“This land owned by sitla, the sitla property can be successfully a remediated we view it all the same it is remediation whether we are cleaning up a oil spills in the middle east or we like to say we are cleaning up mother nature’s mess in eastern Utah” -Trent Staggs

Vivakor is scamming SITLA

Trent Staggs says he will clean up mother natures mess. Here is an area Vivakor will “remediate”

Mr Woodbury pointed out that remediation is not the same as subsurface mining. SITLA director, David Ure vouched for Viva Ventures and encouraged the approval. It was stated by Jerry Mansfield that they have a process to check if a company is licensed to do business in Utah before they sign the lease.

Why doesn’t the staff verify the license of an applicant for an OBA before spending staff time and resources on creating an OBA that may never be signed?

What follow up has been done on this contract why has the board and the public not been told that the deal never went through?

How much time and money was spent on this OBA arrangement?

What will the board do to keep from being used like this to manipulate stock prices?

Tar sands and oil shale are frequently used as a tool for scamming investors

This board has a duty to respond to the repeated use of SITLA lands, lease holds, resources and staff to perpetuate false value in impossible plans to turn rocks into oil. How many companies will you aid in defrauding communities, investors, tax payers and most importantly the school trust?

Here are some of the tar sands and oil shale projects which have used SITLA

and never completed there project or made money for SITLA: US Oil Sands now renamed 2020 resources, Red Leaf Resources, MCW Energy now renamed as Petroteq energy and  Enefit. These companies have however generated significant financial investments from investors and local communities. Although none of these companies are profitable they do pay large salaries to their ceo’s.

Shame on SITLA for continuing to ignore this scam.


SITLA board meeting

Join the Virtual SITLA Board meeting

this Thursday, August 13, 2020 @ 10 am.

Banner "SITLAs

US Oil sands went bankrupt and defaulted on payments to SITLA.

Remember SITLA? They control Utah School Trust Lands therefore including leases for waste disposal, fracking, grazing, mining  and strip mines for coal and oil.  Recently SITLA claimed limited interest in Solar Power applications.  Is this changing? 

Listen, Watch, and Make a Comment on ZOOM. 

SITLA will hold a monthly board meeting on Thursday August 13 at 10 am.

See the agenda here with instructions.

Children with banner on SITLA land

SITLA land on Seep Ridge road should be restored to the Ute tribe. It is part of the Uncompahgre reservation stolen through the dawes act.

Public comment is encouraged and occurs at the beginning of the meeting

You can register now or by 9:50 am Thursday if possible. 

You can also submit a written comment.  

UTSR filed a lawsuit against SITLA

UTSR fought for public accountability and transparency from SITLA. By filing a lawsuit against the SITLA Board and Exec. Director David Ure for their lack of transparency and accountability.

UTSR vigil at PR Springs

Utah Tar Sands Resistance does direct action AND attends SITLA board meetings.

Here is how it happened.  In January 2018 SITLA  (School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration), held a Board Meeting and Retreat where they mistakenly handed me a Confidential Agenda. Most importantly, the SITLA Board’s use of a confidential agenda was a serious violation of the Utah Open Public Meetings act (OPMA). Therefore, after hours of research, talking to attorneys and help from many sources, I sued SITLA myself and on behalf of Utah Tar sands Resistance for  the OPMA violation. See the lawsuit here: Cordray vs SITLA


SITLA acknowledged mistakes and makes some improvements

In the year since I have met with attorneys for SITLA several times and sought many improvements to SITLA’s public meeting process.  As a result of this lawsuit SITLA has corrected earlier mistakes and is proposing a settlement agreement for SITLA to follow and exceed OPMA requirements. We are currently continuing to negotiate an agreement with SITLA to settle this lawsuit. 

SITLA board meeting

SITLA director David Ure


We have had a lot of movement and improvement on virtual meetings. For instance  SITLA agreed to make all board members visible on the screen at the same time (gallery view). Also they now allow live public comment during the meeting including verbatim reading of written comments into the record by SITLA staff. Other areas of focus have been the requirements for specificity of the agenda and proper public notice as well as applying the specificity to the closed meeting topics on public agendas. 

I hope you will join me this Thursday, August 13, 2020 @ 10 am for the Virtual SITLA Board meeting.  You can register now or by 9:50 am Thursday if possible.

Trent Staggs a bad choice for county mayor

Trent Staggs is a bad choice for Salt lake County Mayor. He is currently the mayor of Riverton city. He is also involved in Vivakor, who call themselves an oil field extraction and remediation technology company. Vivakor has a long history of investors claiming they were scammed. Trent Staggs is Vivakor’s strategic development adviser. 

Trent Staggs works for a ponzi scheme

Vivakor strategic development advisor is a bad choice for county mayor.

Under Mr. Staggs direction Vivakor or Vivaventures LLC  is a scamming Utah’s school children. 

Last year Vivakor Inc made this strategic claim in a paid press release:

″We are pleased the SITLA Board unanimously approved this mineral lease, allowing us to work with the State organization in verifying the asset reserve and ultimately deploying our technology on this vast 1440 acre area. We have a great working relationship with them, successfully operating on their properties previously, demonstrating our commitment to the area and the viability of our technology… stated Vivakor Chief Executive Officer Matt Nicosia.

Trent Staggs appeared before the SITLA board and agreed to terms for a special lease he made inaccurate claims and promises to the SITLA board who approved the contract. Vivakor never signed the contract and is not leasing anything from SITLA

Mother natures mess

Trent Staggs says they will “clean up mother natures mess in Eastern Utah”

Currently Vivakor has no actual SITLA lease because they never signed the contract SITLA prepared and approved. They do use repeated press releases to generate interest in VIVK stocks and aid in a long standing pattern of pump and dump stock transactions.

Vivakor has also obtained grants for government aid and defaulted. 

On June 17, 2020 Vivaventures precious metals a subsidiary of Vivakor, received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the federal government for covid relief funds. 

VivaRRT LLC. a subsidiary of Vivakor has a debt collection judgement against them from Stubbs & Stubbs Oil Field Construction, Inc. out of Vernal Utah.

Vivakor timeline and document list from UTSR research and GRAMA requests.



Tar sands future looks bleak

I cannot help thinking about the Earth and nature as we watch humans around the world stop many daily activities. Civilization as we know it is on hold and the air and water are getting clearer everyday.

Land leased for tar sands in Uintah county

Columbine on tar sands lease hold in Uintah county

As the value of oil and gas collapses it reveals more problems created by fossil fuel dependency. Now is the time to turn to renewable energy.

Tar Sands value in Canada was falling even before the Covid 19 pandemic. In Utah tar sands has never made a profit. It is clear that we should stop wasting money and land on extreme energy projects like tar sand and oil shale development in Utah.  

Stripmines waste Utah SITLA wastes Utah's trust.

Banner about SITLA displayed before 2017 bicycle ride.

For several years now SITLA has been promoting speculative tar sands projects that will never come to commercial success. Many groups have been saying this to SITLA for several years. By promoting unrealistic extreme energy projects and fossil fuel speculation on school trust lands SITLA added credibility to an old scam.

Banner at PR Springs on Seep Ridge Road

tar sands future is bleak in Utah.

Now they are going to try and save a sinking ship The Salt Lake Tribune reported last week:

“SITLA is looking at policy changes to give operators some relief, Adams said, such as waiving the standard penalty on those who shut in wells and extending the terms of leases.”

SITLA is facing a sharp decrease in revenue from the pandemic they should not be providing relief to fossil fuel projects. 


US Oil Sands changes it’s name AGAIN!?!

US Oil Sands the fraudulent tar sands strip mining company changed its name to 2020 Resources. This is the third time since 2005. They first began leasing land for strip mining in Eastern Utah, as “Earth Energy Resources”. 

The newly named  “2020 resources” has never actually made a profit however they have continued to pay large salaries to the CEOs after delisting from the stock market and declaring bankruptcy in 2017.  All the public stock holders lost their investment and numerous creditors were forced to forgive US Oil Sands debts. For example the state of Utah. SITLA was owed $275,000 for lease payments that were forgiven through bankruptcy. “2020 resources” continues to defraud investors, local businesses and communities under this new name. 

2020 resources makes false claims on their web page. There is no environmentally friendly way to turn rocks into oil. Tar sands mining is the most destructive project on earth. It has shown to be energy intensive. It takes massive amounts of water. Tar sands requires major upgrading and produces a dirty fuel. The mine site continues to remain idle as of 2019 meanwhile the CEOs who live in Canada are making money by not ever going commercial. Don’t be fooled by 2020 resources. 


US Oil sands Bankrupt 2 years ago today

In honor of the day US Oil Sands went bankrupt Utah Tar Sands Resistance held a party this morning at the rarely used tar factory on Seep Ridge Road. We came with a new banner, some music and announcements about the bankruptcy of US Oil Sands in 2017. US Oil Sands has wasted land and resources and cheated investors due to their bankruptcy. The idle mine is on SITLA land stolen from the Ute people it is on the Uncompahgre reservation.

US Oil Sands bankrupt again banner

Banner at US Oil Sands tar factory on Seep Ridge Road B

Now called USO Utah, the inactive mine site and factory has reduced it’s leasehold considerably. USO Utah cleared the bankruptcy courts and restructured therefore a clean bill of credit has been given to USO Utah. The contractors are there tuning up the unused equipment and polishing the useless factory to feed the real golden goose: foolish investors, creditors and the tax payers of Utah!  

We arrived early to greet workers and let them know about the anniversary and the scam. We were there to let arriving contractors and service providers know that anyone who works at this project should be aware that they may not get paid. Many investors have lost their fortune to tar sands scams. US Oil Sands have harmed local workers and their families by exploiting the bust and boom cycles these scams thrive on. 

night view of tar sands factory and banner

2020 Resources is the new name of US Oil Utah. Here is the idle tar factory.

Here is a list of businesses who lost money as a result of US Oil Sands bankruptcy

USO Utah is seeking investors. 

Do Not Be Fooled USO Utah is a SCAM!

Update: USO Utah has changed it’s name (again) the new name is 2020 Resources.


Change SITLA

It is time for Utah to change SITLA

SITLA is destroying Utah’s pristine wilderness and providing a paltry 2% of the yearly budget. 

banner "Stripmines waste Utah, SITLA wastes Utah's Trust"

“Stripmines waste Utah, SITLA wastes Utah’s Trust”

Utah spends $4.02 billion dollars per year on k thru 12 public education.

In 2019 $82.66 million in (SITLA) school land trust funds distributed throughout schools in Utah this year.

These numbers and math show SITLA provides 2% ( 0.02056196479 ) of public school funds.  

I won’t expound on the wrongful damage SITLA does to the potential for a livible future for the schoolchildren in Utah … that is well documented elsewhere … see for ex. www.tarsandsresist.org
Although SITLA contributes only 2% the money is very controversial. 

How do they do it?  SITLA (and I mean our governor Dirty Herbert and the Legislature) hypes the puny SITLA 2% by requiring school parents to be elected to local councils for 2 year terms to decide how to spend the 2% within strict brackets. (See story above)

A bureaucracy has been created just to serve these councils. 

The councils themselves become vested in the SITLA 2%. 

All this convolution is in service to perpetuating SITLA, the nefarious enterprise overseen by Dirty Herbert’s hand picked board. 

Let’s all support the students who are working to CHANGE SITLA.


~Lionel for Utah Tar Sands Resistance

Air and water pollution in Uintah County

Notice of Uncontrolled Air and Water Pollution in Uintah County, Utah and  Complaint made by UTSR.

tar sand strip mine Police Substation of Agent Ronald C. Barton, Utah Attorney General’s Office, for SITLA,

Deteriorating exterior insulation on a water tank serving the tar sand strip mine and Uintah County Police Substation.

       Please take notice and immediate corrective action regarding the Synthetic Vitreous Fibers (Fiberglass) being dispersed without control into the air and subsequently deposited onto the lands and into the waters of the Uncompahgre reservation in Uintah County, Utah.



US Oil Sand’s, PR Springs tar sands factory and strip mine is spreading dangerous synthetic vitreous fibers on School Trust Lands.

Shredding fiberglass at US Oil sands tar mine creating air and water pollution in Uintah County.

Shredding fiberglass at US Oil sands tar mine is leaving the property and spreading into the natural environment.

The source of the fiberglass is the deteriorating exterior insulation on a water tank serving the tar sand strip mine Police Substation of Agent Ronald C. Barton, Utah Attorney General’s Office, for SITLA, located adjacent to the USOS stripmine and factory on Seep Ridge Road, in Uintah County, Utah.




The tank and uncontrolled dispersing fiberglass is apparently owned by USO (Utah) LLC, a private Delaware corporation based in Canada.

The tank is or was used in a bonded mine plan, M0470090, which was approved by Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining.

The tank is on land leased to USO (Utah) LLC., by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), and is located in Uintah County immediately west of Seep Ridge Road, just south of mile marker one.

Air and water pollution in Uintah County at PR Spings tar mine

Shredding fiberglass at US Oil sands tar mine creating air and water pollution in Uintah County.

  The US Government granted the impacted lands to the Uncompahgre Utes on January 5, 1882 by an executive order of President Chester A. Arthur, later the US Government took control of the land from the Ute Tribe through the allotment process. The Uncompahgre reservation boundaries were not diminished and the Ute nation retains jurisdiction on the subject lands.

SITLA subsequently obtained title to these lands in trade with the US Government.

The USO tarsand stripmine went into bankruptcy a couple years ago and the place shuttered up. Recently some activity is occurring. Photos of the deteriorating water tank at the tarsand stripmine show fiberglass entering the environment in large pieces and small and show the water tank’s connection to Attorney General’s Police Substation. A sample of the fiberglass has been collected as indicated.

The Photos are linked HERE: 

All of these photos accurately depict the conditions at this site in July 2019

The photos indicate recent activity at the USO stripmine factory site where a gas powered electric generator was placed on and near the water tank dispersing fiberglass in mid July 2019.

How can fiberglass affect my health?

Larger fibers have been found to cause skin, eye and upper respiratory tract irritation. There are other possible health effects:

A rash can appear when the fibers become embedded in the outer layer of the skin. No long-term health effects should occur from touching fiberglass. Eyes may become red and irritated after exposure to fiberglass. Soreness in the nose and throat can result when fibers are inhaled. Asthma and bronchitis is aggravated by exposure to fiberglass. Temporary stomach irritation will occur if fibers are swallowed. 

What happens to synthetic vitreous fibers when they enter the environment? 

Synthetic vitreous fibers do not evaporate into air or dissolve in water. They are generally not broken down to other compounds in the environment and will remain virtually unchanged over long periods. 

Eventually, synthetic vitreous fibers will be broken down if the water or soil is very acidic or very alkaline. Fibers can enter the air, water, and soil from the manufacture, use, and disposal of synthetic vitreous fiber-containing materials. Fibers with small diameters become airborne more easily than thick fibers, and can be transported by wind for longer distances. Synthetic vitreous fibers are not likely to move through soil.

Source: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2004.

American Badger on SITLA land leased for strip mining

American Badger on SITLA land leased for strip mining

american badger on SITLA land at PR Springs Utah.

This morning at our vigil camp around 9:30 am I noticed an animal moving across the meadow. It looked like a large cat or small dog from afar so I grabbed a camera and ran over to the meadow.  It was an American badger. The badger ran up the dirt road and I got a few pics!

American Badger at PR Springs, SITLA land leased for strip mining

American Badger at PR Springs, raises a protest with hissing and puffing when I try to follow.

A one point it turned toward me and puffed up and growled. It was grunting and hissing as it ran off. Another amazing animal flourishing on the Tavaputs Plateau in the book-cliffs. The American badger makes it’s home on SITLA land leased for tar sands strip mining.

The badger has an interesting quality called “Embryonic diapause” or delayed implantation. This means the embryonic blastocyst does not immediately implant in the uterus after sexual reproduction. Mammals may undergo diapause to avoid the risk to their own lives during unfavorable conditions. 

Nature is wise.