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:

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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.

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Red Leaf Resources scraping open a new strip mine

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

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.

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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.

The Road to Hell is Paved with Tar Sands

UTSR Fearless Summer 1

As part of the Fearless Summer week of solidarity actions against extreme energy, Utah Tar Sands Resistance and allies confronted road construction crews on Seep Ridge Road, and expressed determination to stop both the road itself and what it is literally paving the way for–tar sands, oil shale and fracking across the Colorado River Basin (at an estimated cost of $3 million per mile).

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Seep Ridge, formerly a small dirt road, is now becoming a site of immense devastation as areas of Uintah County are clear cut, leveled, and ultimately pave from just south of Ouray, Utah, to the Uintah/Grand county line atop the Book Cliffs, a distance of some 44.5 miles. Eventually, this road may connect to I-70, though development of the Grand County leg has not been approved and is already meeting with resistance.
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July 24-29: Canyon Country Action Camp

UPDATE 7/31/13:
Check out the full report on action camp and the amazing action that resulted by going to http://www.peacefuluprising.org/actioncampaction
Utah Tar Sands Direct Action CampJoin our friends Peaceful Uprising and Canyon Country Rising Tide for the Utah Tar Sands Direct Action Training Camp, July 24-29th.

In an effort to create a dynamic and diverse learning space, they are asking that everyone planning on attending the camp fill out this application. Application deadline is July 1st. They will get back to you as soon as possible (by July 10th at the latest).

Canyon Country Action Camp

Abandoned tar sands pit near US Oil Sands test pit in Eastern Utah

A delegation of investigators from Peaceful Uprising, Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Living Rivers visited the East Tavaputs plateau to document the life of the area and destruction that would be inevitable if US Oil Sands is allowed to develop the first tar sands pit in the US. Actually, the FIRST tar sands pit–featured in this video–was an economic failure and was abandoned in 1983. Destroyed mining equipment, a still-open pit and oozing oil are still present at this 30-year-old site of industrial fossil fuel extraction.

No Tar Sands in Utah! No Tar Sands Anywhere! Protest in Salt Lake City


Protest erupts in Salt Lake City Utah. The proposed mining area in Utah is the first permitted tar sands mining in the United States. While the Bureau of Land management have identified tar sands rocks in as many as five states, Utah sets the precedent. The most current tar sands mining permits are in the scenic Book Cliffs area, visible from Arches National Park, and the most threatened site is at PR Springs.

The Earth First! 2012 Organizers Conference & Winter Rendezvous culminated in a rowdy demonstration outside the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) offices in downtown Salt Lake City. Earth First! activists staged their protest with local organizers from Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Canyon Country Rising Tide. A clear (and messy) message was left at the doorstep—a mock oil spill accompanied by a mural reading “Hey SITLA: Tar Sands Outta Utah!”

The project would lease school trust lands for tar sands extraction in the Book Cliffs area, directly impacting PR Springs.

“Destruction of education trust lands through tar sands mining is contrary to the mandate of this agency, which requires them to maintain the land for the long term,” said Mark Purdy of Utah Tar Sands Resistance.

An article in the Desert News stated: “The proposed mining operation would occupy a 213-acre site in the East Tavaputts Plateau straddling the borders of Uintah and Grand counties. An ore processing facility would accommodate up to 3,500 tons of ore per day in the production of bitumen. The extraction process would require 1.5 barrels to 2 barrels of water per barrel of bitumen produced… The company will have to post a reclamation bond of nearly $1.7 million before any work is allowed to begin at the site.

Last year Earth First! protested tar sands development in Montana, shutting down the state capitol building for a day and even dancing on the governor’s table.