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.”

SITLA’s Dirty Energy Hurts Schoolkids

UTSR gains first free expression permit of 2018.

As our first action of the new year we will attend SITLA’s monthly meeting at 9 am thursday january 4  and then we will have our free expression event with banners and protest tents at the SITLA retreat located at the Falls event center at 600 east and 600 south from 12-3:30. We will be setting up at 11 am.

Salt lake City provides this document with interesting information about free speech.

https://drive.google.com/drive/my-drive

Free Expression Definitions – SLC Free Expression Activity Permit Application
QUICK REFERENCE: First Amendment
Public Safety
Expressive Conduct
Fighting Words
Interference
Risk of Violence
1. The First Amendment’s guarantee of the right of free expression is a fundamental element of our democratic system of government. However, that right of free expression is not absolute. Some kinds of speech, such as obscenity, defamation, and fighting words, are not protected by the First Amendment. In addition, to further significant governmental interests, the government may regulate the time, place, and manner of the exercise of protected speech rights. An example of a “time” regulation is an ordinance banning loud noises in residential areas
during the night. An example of a “place” regulation is a requirement that parades not be held on certain busy streets. An example of a “manner” regulation is a restriction on the size of signs carried by picketers. The government cannot impose speech restrictions simply because it disagrees with the message of the speaker. In other words, government regulation of speech must be “content neutral.”
Furthermore, a time, place, or manner regulation must advance a significant
governmental interest, not restrict more speech than necessary to further that interest, and leave speakers with an ample alternative means to express them.

2. The City has a significant and compelling interest in maintaining the safety of people on streets and sidewalks. That interest sometimes justifies restrictions on speech rights. For example, the City can pass laws making it illegal to stand in the middle of the street, or to block pedestrians on sidewalks. Those laws are valid, even when enforced against a person who wants to speak in that street or on that sidewalk. The City may also establish temporary regulations for a specific event to address the particular public safety concerns related to that event. For example, a particular event may generate much heavier pedestrian traffic than normal. Furthermore, the police have a duty to protect people exercising their free speech rights from violence aimed at them by a hostile audience.

3. Protected expression is not limited to the spoken or written word. People may communicate a message through expressive conduct, such as wearing an armband, or burning the United States flag, a draft card, or an effigy. A person’s conduct is expressive if he or she intends to convey a particularized message, and
if it is very likely that people viewing the conduct will understand the message. Any
government attempt to restrict such expressive conduct must be unrelated to the suppression of free speech. For example, the government could validly pass a law making it illegal to burn anything (including the American flag) in a particular place due to the fire hazard. Such a law is not aimed at speech, but rather at public safety. On the other hand, the government cannot validly ban the burning of the flag simply because it believes that burning the flag is unpatriotic. Based on those principles, courts have held that many instances of expressive conduct were
protected, even though the conduct ridiculed government or religious leaders, religious beliefs, or otherwise seriously offended many people.

4. As noted above, “fighting words” are not protected by the First Amendment, so the government can treat them as disorderly conduct or a breach of the peace. Fighting words are defined as personal insults: (1) directed at a particular person or small group of people, (2) inherently likely to create a violent reaction, and (3) that play no role in the expression of ideas. It is not enough that the words are very insulting or highly offensive or arouse some people to anger. Also, words are not fighting words if they are spoken to a crowd. Listeners are expected to turn their heads and ignore such speech. Whether particular speech constitutes fighting words depends on the circumstances of the situation. However, even when speech is extremely annoying or offensive to listeners, courts have been very tolerant and protective of such speech. In one case, a door-to-door missionary played for two men a recording that attacked the men’s religion. The men became incensed
and were tempted to strike the missionary. The United States Supreme Court held that the missionary’s speech (the recording) was not fighting words. Expressive conduct is also subject to the fighting words analysis. As with traditional speech,
however, courts are very protective of such symbolic speech. For example, the United States Supreme Court held that a law was unconstitutional that made it illegal to “desecrate a venerated object” such as a flag, if the desecrator knew it would seriously offend observers. The court overturned the conviction of a man who burned an American flag in protest. Similarly, courts have held that the display, ridicule, and even burning of effigies of public figures do not amount to fighting words. However, there are limits. In a recent case a group of protesters formed a semicircle around a woman and for six minutes shouted at her that she was “a whore, harlot, and Jezebel.” A court held that those were fighting words under the circumstances. Notably, the words were directed specifically at the woman.

5. Speakers in a speech event have a constitutional right not to have their message interfered with by other speakers. A physical intrusion is such an unconstitutional interference. For example, the sponsor of a private parade cannot be forced to allow in the parade a float that communicates a message with which the sponsors disagree. Also, if a group reserved public space for a silent candlelight vigil, it would be improper for the government to grant a rock band a permit to hold a concert right next to the vigil. Such interference could also include stalking a speaker in an intimidating way or trying to block his sign with an even larger sign. Depending on the location and the circumstances, heckling or shouting down of a speaker may constitute an infringement on that speaker’s free speech rights. The government is justified in restricting speech aimed at unwilling listeners if the listeners are a “captive audience,” meaning they cannot conveniently avoid the speech by turning their heads or walking away. Under this principle, courts have upheld laws requiring protesters to keep their volume down near hospitals, courthouses, and private residences, in order not to disturb people in those private places. Courts have also upheld bans on demonstrators entering into churches without consent, but courts generally have not upheld efforts to prohibit protesters from demonstrating on the sidewalk in front of places of worship (except to the
extent protesters block access to the church or their noise penetrates into the church).

6. The United States Supreme Court has said of the risk of violence: “A function of free speech . . . is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with the conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging.”
It is true that listeners sometimes dislike the message of a speaker, lose their temper, and become violent. However, in such situations the speakers retain their constitutional right to speak (short of “fighting words”), and it is the duty of the police to protect the speakers and deal with the violent listeners. Courts reject a “heckler’s veto” that would silence a speaker because of a hostile audience reaction. On rare occasions, the government may have such an expectation of violence that it will impose additional restrictions on how or where speech can occur. For example, if two groups with strongly opposing viewpoints that have a history of violence intend to hold rallies next to each other, the police may require them to remain a safe distance apart to reduce the risk of violence. Similarly, if members of a group have a history of blocking access and/or engaging in physical violence while exercising their free speech rights, restrictions such as “buffer zones” may be appropriate.

 

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 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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The Protest Must Go On!

 

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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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.”

3
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

reflection

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.

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