The Protest Must Go On!

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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”

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

 

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.

Support Utah Land Defenders!

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.

Rising Tide North America is handling donations through The Action Network. Donate to the land defenders’ legal support fund using this secure link or with the form below:

 

 

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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Donate to the land defenders’ legal support fund:


Storm Brewing: Permanent protest setup at proposed tar sands strip mine

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People hold a giant banner inside the tar sands mine. The banner reads: Climate Justice is Survival Now Or Never.

Last weekend, tar sands resisters new and old gathered in the Book Cliffs of so-called Eastern Utah, at PR Springs, site of the first proposed tar sands mine in the United States. This gathering marked nearly three years of observation, law suits, and direct action against the project, and signaled the beginning of a permanent protest vigil inside the boundaries of public lands leased for strip mining.

Check out our DONATIONS PAGE to make an online donation or check out our gear request list! 

U.S. Oil Sands, of Calgary, Alberta, has leased over 32,000 acres of land traditionally inhabited by Ute and Shoshone people. The land is now managed by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), and sits just outside the Northern Ute Ouray Reservation. The company has yet to begin full-scale production, and has spent the last year procuring their permits from the Department of Water Quality, wrangling $80 million from fly-by-night investors, and hiring Kellogg Brown & Root LLC (KBR) for project and construction management.

music: “Without Water,” KleeBenally.com

In March, Living Rivers brought U.S. Oil Sands (USOS) and the Department of Water Quality (DWQ) to the Utah Supreme Court, whose ruling we eagerly await, arguing that the permits given to USOS had failed to take into consideration the devastating impacts the strip-mining project would have on the precious groundwater in the region. DWQ stated that there was not enough groundwater to be of concern (though geologists from the University of Utah have found otherwise in their extensive study of the region’s groundwater systems) and is not requiring USOS to take any measures in their disposal of waste water used during their highly experimental and unproven new tar sands mining process. US Oil Sands is fond of stating that their project will use very little water, as it is completely dependent on a chemical called d-limonene (an expensive solvent, at $36/gallon), but their permit application itself states that they will still require 116 gallons of water per minute, which they have failed to procured in the five water wells they’ve drilled that tap into the Mesaverde Aquifer. In an interview published this week, the company stated that they’ve “hit on the idea of using a dryer” as part of the extraction process, though no data has been released about this, and it remains to be seen if the company has updated their permits to include this new technology.

SONY DSCIn the same interview, Cameron Todd, the CEO of U.S. Oil Sands, stated, “We’re fully permitted and we’ve actually started work in the field already although most of the work won’t be done until next summer.”

In a May 14th press release, the company stated that they would  be completing Phase 1 of their project, at a cost of nearly $60 million, though their current stock price has halved from their $0.24 high to a measly $0.12, and mentions commercial start-up date of 2015.

This proposed time-line remains consistent with the company’s history, as they have pushed back full production year after year, having had a difficult time finding investors for a very risky project, and having been fought, both in the courts and in the very mine itself, by groups and individuals who vow that they will see the project stopped.

Last weekend’s act of civil disobedience saw protestors walk onto a the company’s 10-acre test mine with a huge banner reading “Climate Justice is Survival: Now or Never.”

While the land itself, once stolen from the Ute tribe, is destroyed, as carcinogens such as arsenic, mercury and uranium are leeched into the watershed, as tar sands and oil shale strip-mining add to the criminally toxic air quality of the Uintah Basin, and as the tar sands are trucked nearly 200 miles each day to Salt Lake City to be refined in poor and predominantly Latino neighborhoods, the Utah tar sands themselves are but one small piece of the global extraction monster. The fossil fuels our society has made itself dependent on have caused a man-made climate change emergency, and it is up to us to take a stand a say, “no more.” Tar sands are the bottom of the barrel, one of the dirtiest forms of energy found, and one that required mass amounts of resources to extract while proving very little usable energy. The Utah tar sands must remain in the ground if we have any hope of a livable future, and a coalition of passionate and dedicated people have taken a stand, saying “no tar sands!”

This summer, land defenders stand in vigil and protest, observing the actions and movement of U.S. Oil Sands, as well as several other tar sands and oil shale companies with greedy claims on the region, determining what areas are to be clear-cut or tested, and what infrastructure is built, as they prepare to stop them.

READ THE PRESS RELEASE.

Tell the BLM “STOP Ambre Energy!” #NoOilShale in the Book Cliffs

Attention Resisters! There’s a new oil shale company with their dirty extraction loving eyes on the Book Cliffs of Utah. Ambre Energy wants to start exploratory mining about 50 miles south of Vernal, along Seep Ridge.

Oh hey, do you remember when the BLM was drafting their Environmental Impact Statement on tar sands and oil shale in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, and we delivered the People’s Environmental Impact Statement telling them why tar sands & oil shale development are a bad idea? And the lawsuit that challenged the 800,000-acres being proposed? The BLM paid some lip-service to the fact that they were going to make tar sands and oil shale speculators PROVE that their projects were economically viable AND would have minimal impact on the environment. That they’d allow this “exploratory mining” seems pretty shady.

TELL THE BLM: NO OIL SHALE IN UTAH’S BOOK CLIFFS! Continue reading

Utah Tar Sands Intergenerational Campout – June 20-22

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Join us June 20-22 for an intergenerational campout, bringing together families to project future generations from the Utah tar sands.

This is a unique opportunity to camp out in the scenic Book Cliffs of Eastern Utah with your family and friends and a group of people dedicated to climate justice.

Fun and informative activities will be planned throughout the weekend for adults and children of various ages.

Last year a group of families converged at PR Springs, site of the first proposed tar sands mine in the United States. While there, everyone from a 2-year-old, pre-teens, and Grandparents spent time exploring the land with local organizers, hiking, bird watching, water-testing, and, most importantly, learning about US Oil Sands’ project, and witnessing the devastation already being wrought by their 9-acre test site.

The School & Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), the State of Utah, and US Oil Sands would have us believe that the tar sands & oil shale projects moving forward in Eastern Utah are all for the benefit of the children. For, they would say, isn’t all the money from the Trust Lands being leased for extreme fossil fuel development going towards education? No. SITLA’s annual contribution to education accounts for only about 1 percent of the state’s $3 billion-plus education budget. With every parcel of stolen land leased for development and extraction, and every acre sacrificed, the more the land is devastated, the water put at risk and polluted, and the air filled with dust and toxins, the future of our children, and of future generations, becomes more and more bleak.

The short term gains from destroying the Book Cliffs, and turning Colorado Plateau into a sacrifice zone, is not worth the future of our children. Come see what’s at risk. Come take a stand.

***** SO THAT WE CAN BETTER ORGANIZE FOOD, CARPOOLING & CAMPING SITES, EMAIL US AT tarsandsresist@riseup.net IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON COMING. *****

FOR DIRECTIONS TO THE AREA & TIPS FOR CAMPING, VISIT OUR CONNECT WITH THE LAND PAGE.

Utah children visit PR Springs & speak out against tar sands

On June 22nd, 2013, as part of the 4th Annual Global Earth Exchange, and #FearlessSummer, a group of Utah children traveled to PR Springs, the site of the first proposed Tar Sands mining project in the United States.

They created a work of art in appreciation for Mother Earth, made entirely of objects found around the mine, and spoke in opposition to the Tar Sands.

UTSR Global Earth Exchange

(Photo by Steve Liptay)

UTSR Danger Mine Site

(photo by Steve Liptay)