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. UTSR is against this transfer because 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.

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.”

US Oil Sands announces they are near bankruptcy!

 

News of the impending implosion of US Oil Sands.

http://in.reuters.com/article/brief-us-oil-sands-inc-announces-financi-idINASA09TPS

The 100 million dollar project is a big flop. This fact was actually quite clear for a very long time. Big money players have exploited the land and colluded with the politicians to create a cash cow for some, roller-coaster for others and big loss for the public. Not to mention nothing but a waste site of 99 acres that isn’t even as clean as beach sand as was promised, for the SITLA Trust fund beneficiaries.

This company deserves to go under and every one will benefit from the end of this fraud. Now we must address SITLA and the state powers who are continuing to pursue tar sands.

The Scam continues US Oil Sands gets more money.

This is the 6th year of Utah Tar Sands Resistance opposition to the destructive mine plans of the Canadian Corporation, “US Oil Sands” or USOS. USOS has been leasing 50 square miles in the Book Cliffs from the State of Utah for tar sands strip mining since 2005. USOS claims they will produce oil this year, USOS has been claiming this every year, since 2008.

Actually US Oil Sands has yet to produce oil commercially from their project in Utah.

USOS has spent over 100 million dollars building the strip mine and tar processing facility at PR Springs. They have destroyed 100 acres of pristine forest and hold leases to 32,000 acres for tar sands strip mining. In the 4th quarter of 2016 they announced they were out of money and they laid off  most of their employees.

In January US Oil Sands obtained an additional 12 million dollars and is again claiming they will produce oil early in 2017. Our research shows that the Utah department of oil gas and mining (UDOGM) re-assessed the amount of the reclamation surety bond (Likely from our complaints) from approx $376,000.000 to $728,000.00 and they received and extension to pay this bond by February 15th. Which they did pay on Feb 14th according to UDOGM.

CLICK HERE for Utah Depart Oil Gas & Mining Files on the USOS PR SPRING Stripmine

US Oil Sands Lays off most empolyees, closes facility

We support Standing Rock and all resistance to DAPL!

Utah Tar Sands Resistance shares the joy with the the Earth and inhabitants of Main and PR Canyons of a halt to the incomplete tar sands processing plant and strip mine at PR Springs.

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After grinding up 95 acres and destroying Children’s Legacy Camp unnecessarily US Oil Sands, a Canadian Company has laid off most of its Canadian and American Employees and shuttered the speculative tar sands strip mine. According to a statement USOS released on December 2nd:

“In order to preserve working capital, the Company has temporarily laid off most Canadian and U.S. employees, retaining only those essential to close a financing. Certain U.S. employees may also be retained on a part-time or short-term basis to assist in equipment preservation and lay-up of the facility and to maintain basic U.S. operations.”  

http://us10.campaign-archive1.com/?u=e561a64bfb0b7b4abe43bcb90&id=a01edc32ce&e=5620d9e2bc

The Calgary Herald also reports:

http://calgaryherald.com/business/energy/us-oil-sands-lays-off-staff-defers-utah-mine-startup

“The Calgary company developing an oilsands mine in Utah says it has delayed the project’s startup and temporarily laid off most of its Canadian and American employees while it secures new financing.US Oil Sands said the PR Spring project is mechanically complete but requires additional capital to cover the remaining commissioning and startup costs.”

The history of this project shows that they have been promising to begin producing oil nearly every year since 2008.  The reality shows that they are exploiting the land, the people and the future.

The public records at U-DOGM web page shows that US Oil Sands also has numerous items to address in the NOI to commence large mining operations, these can be found here:

http://linux3.ogm.utah.gov/WebStuff/wwwroot/minerals/mineralsfilesbypermit.php?M0470090

The cost of this project is so far from profitable. The public needs to know that the decision makers in Utah are selling them and the school trust lands out. The so called “Green River formation” must be left in the ground, our air, light and water sheds preserved.

As US Oil Sands continues to raise money and promises (again) to begin producing oil in 2017 UTSR is building awareness and resistance to stripmines and pipelines everywhere.  

UTSR will be resuming our public protest vigil in Spring 2017.

We will host the 5th annual Intergenerational campout in June.

Please consider giving a year end tax deductible donation to UTSR to support our campaign.

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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

US Oil Sands announces slow down and lack of funding! USOS STOCKS plummet!

PR Springs mine may NEVER open.

Utah Tar Sands Resistance is hopeful about the real impact of the recent announcement by US Oil Sands of the scale down of their plans for tar sands strip mining at PR Springs Utah. All beings will continue to gain from the existence of this remote ecosystem and the preservation of this historic source of spring water.

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news links about USOS slow down:

US Oil Sands slows Utah project, Salt Lake Tribune

US Oil Sands slows $60-million Utah project as prices tank, contractors close

article US Oil Sands announces decision to slow construction at PR Springs mine Moab Sun Times.

A message to potential MCW Energy investors: #NOTARSANDS

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Turns out MCW Energy, another Canadian tar sands strip-mining company, was “unveiling its proprietary, oil sands extraction technology near Vernal, Utah” today.

According to MCW’s press release: “The occasion will be marked with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a demonstration of MCW’s extraction plant on MCW’s lease site at Asphalt Ridge, near Vernal, Utah. Many local dignitaries, Utah State officials and the corporate MCW team are scheduled to be in attendance at this benchmark resource development event.”

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Come chipmunks and land defenders marked the occasion by greeting all of those dignitaries, officials and corporate tools to boos & hisses as they arrived at the company’s processing plant.

“We will continue to stand against all tar sands mining in the region,” one chipmunk stated.

A message to MCW and their potential investors: you are investing in death, and we will not allow your project to move forward.

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Faces of the grassroots climate movement: rowdy and rowdier

Marches around the country this week show ideological diversity among a new cohort of activists.

by Cally Carswell

(This article has been re-posted from High Country News)

Protesters march toward U.S. Oil Sands’ test pit, on the East Tavaputs Plateau in Utah’s Book Cliffs. The company is moving toward opening the first commercial tar sands mine in the U.S., and began clearing a site for a processing facility down the road this summer.

Last Sunday, under a pocket of blue sky, some 30 people spilled out of vehicles onto Seep Ridge Road, a wide thoroughfare that traverses a remote spine of eastern Utah’s Book Cliffs, and is in the process of being paved. Many in the group wore hats or wrapped their heads with scarves, then tied bandanas over their noses and mouths. They looked tough, hard-edged, but not without a sense of humor. One woman carried a shepherd’s cane, one man wore a clown mask, and another played tunes like “This Land is Our Land” on a saxophone. The wind whipped them energetically.

The guises were defenses not against the weather, but against the cops and a security camera trained on a test pit for what could soon become the first commercial tar sands mine in the U.S. Tar sands contain an unconventional crude called bitumen, that with a great deal of water and energy can be extracted from sand and rock, and refined into fuel. The industry is big business in Alberta, Canada, and one of the most carbon-intense fossil fuels. U.S. environmentalists have fiercely opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Canadian tar sands crude to U.S. refineries, in a bid to influence further development to the north. Less known, and less opposed nationally, is the push to develop Utah’s own tar sands deposits.

The protesters were here to say “no” to the development, because as one explained earlier in the day, “These days, if you’re not saying ‘no,’ you’re saying ‘yes’.” It felt good to say “no,” another told me, and to do so publicly.

After all, the politer approaches to solving the climate crisis, the attempts by big environmental groups to work inside the halls of Congress, to compromise, and to wield science to compel action, had failed. It was time, the protesters believed, to confront the problem at its source – carbon spewing projects like this one – and to do so loudly. A few among them unfurled a banner declaring “Together and Everywhere We Rise Up for Climate Justice.” The group began to march toward the test pit. Continue reading

Five Land Defenders Arrested at Utah Tar Sands Protest

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BREAKING: Five Land defenders were arrested yesterday morning at the construction site of US Oil Sands’ tar sands strip-mine in Utah. The Canadian company’s 32,000 acre lease-holding are on state-managed land in the Book Cliffs, on the East Tavaputs Plateau, though the land is traditional Ute land, and lays within Indian country, with sections of the tar sands project straddling the boundary of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation.

Currently, the land defenders (including the media team) are being held on Class A Trespassing charges, with a total bail estimated at $10,500.

One of those arrested is a trans woman, and at this time we are unsure if she is being held in solitary, or if she is being housed with the male population. Neither situation is acceptable, we are extremely concerned about the dangers she may be facing.

We will provide updates and media here as they become available.

Donate to the land defenders’ legal support fund using this secure link or with the form below:

 

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.