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.”

Utah Children say, “Oil Shale Puts Our Future on the Line.”

The weekend of June 20th, 2014, an intergenerational gathering brought together children, guardians, teachers and land defenders at PR Springs, site of the nation’s first commercial fuel tar sands strip mine, located in Eastern Utah. In addition to tar sands mining, the region is being threatened by oil shale strip mining, and after a weekend of hiking and exploring the land, fun art and science projects, and discussions with their peers, the children decided to take a field strip to Red Leaf Resources test site in order to see what was going on there, and to deliver a message.

Dear CEOs and Workers of Red Leaf Resources,

We are the children of Utah. We stand here today with our teachers, parents, and peers.

We are concerned about SITLA‘s dirty energy leasing for strip mining. Oil shale mining, and tar sands, destroys water, forests, and air, increases cancer and asthma risks, and these things take away animal homes that will never be the same.

SITLA funds 2% of the total school budget. We must think of the long term risks.

Is it really worth it to put children’s and animals’ lives in danger for strip mining?

Here in these places, they are destroying beautiful land, where it’s peaceful for wildlife and for people to enjoy and see.

The next time you’re planning to hurt an ecosystem, think of the animals and people you’re hurting and killing.

Thank you,
The Children of Utah

 

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Read more about last year’s family gathering:
The Road to Hell is Paved with Tar Sands
Utah children visit PR Springs & speak out against tar sands
Families Camp Out in Protest to Save the Tavaputs Plateau from America’s First Approved Commercial Tar Sands Operation
Utah Tar Sands: Will The U.S. Join Canada In Tapping The ‘Bottom Of The Barrel’?

Read more about SITLA:
Lots for Tots: How one agency is selling off Utah in the name of the children

 

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.

GET INVOLVED:
Donate money & supplies to the Resistance! Help us keep going!
Join us for the Intergenerational Campout, June 20-22
Tar Sands Healing Walk Solidarity Campout, June 27-29

Read the 1st dispatch from the front:
Red Leaf Resources scraping open a new strip mine

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

In Solidarity with the Tar Sands Healing Walk in Fort McMurray, Alberta

HealingWalk

Join the Utah Tar Sands Resistance and our friends at PR Springs June 27-29th, at the site of the first tar sands mining in the United States, as we gather in solidarity with those on the Tar Sands Healing Walk in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Tar sands and oil shale mining in the Book Cliffs are one part of a pervasive and destructive system that effects lands, air, water, animals and peoples all over the world. Multinational corporations are mining all over Turtle Island, and from the tar sands of Athabasca, to the first tar sands mine in the United States, to every pipeline being put into the ground, every megaload passing through communities and sacred lands, and every ounce of tar sands being refined, piped, trucked, railed, and shipped, we want to draw the connections between these projects, and stand in solidarity with all those who take a stand and say “No tar sands!”

For those able to travel, we ask that you please join those in Fort McMurray, Alberta as they perform the fifth and final Tar Sands Healing Walk.

Those of you who are unable to travel that far, please consider joining the Tar Sands Resistance at PR Springs for a community camping trip. We’ll be talking about the destruction and devastation in the Athabasca region, seeing first hand the destruction of the Book Cliffs, and drawing the connections between all of these projects.

Email us at tarsandsresist@riseup.net if you’ll be joining us, so that we can better coordinate carpooling, camping sites, and food for the gathering.

Visit our Connect with Land page for camping tips and directions.

Spend Memorial Day Weekend with the Resistance!

Memorial

Join the Utah Tar Sands Resistance and our friends on Memorial Day Weekend for a tar sands camping trip at PR Springs!

***TO HELP US PLAN CARPOOLS, CAMPING SITES & FOOD, EMAIL US AT TARSANDSRESIST@RISEUP.NET IF YOU WILL BE ATTENDING***

PR Springs is the site of the first proposed tar sands mine in the United States, being run by a company called US Oil Sands (a Canadian company based out of Calgary). They have a lease on state land for over 36,000 acres, and are busy getting their permits, funding, and infrastructure into place. And we’re busy getting ready to stop them!

Come visit the land & see what’s at risk, before it’s too late!

Join the Facebook event, and invite your friends!

(Check out our “Connect with the Land” page for more information on what to expect while you’re there, directions, and camping tips).

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

Estonian journalist speaks at Enefit / Eesti Energia oil shale test mine in Utah

In January 2014, Estonian journalist Andres Raid of Talinna TV travelled to Utah to investigate his nation’s energy company’s Utah project. What he found was barely a sham test pit and nothing more going on, a scandal of great proportions for his Estonian people.

Estonian’s utility prices have soared under Eesti Energia’s current leadership, debt has gone from €300m in 2011 to €600m today, a balance that credit agencies have noticed. Criticizing Enefit/Eesti Energia’s foolish investments overseas and the expansive debt growth, credit agencies have lower Enefit’s credit rating.

Moreever, Enefit’s test plant in Estonia of turning oil shale into liquid fuel has been a complete waste of time effort and money. So-called Enefit 280–the technology the company claims it will use in Utah, Jordan and elsewhere–isn’t working. A huge plant in Estonia is built but not operational.

Since Raid’s reporting these last two months, sources inside Enefit have told journalists that the Utah oil shale project is on hold indefinitely. But then a Utahn employed by Enefit as a PR flack says that is untrue.

So what is the truth, Enefit? Why don’t you start giving people some answers about Enefit 280, about your soaring debt, about your complete lack of experience turning oil shale into liquid fuel, about the completely disappointing German test results regarding Utah oil shale. Tell us the truth, Enefit–Utahns and Estonians both deserve to hear it.

(You can watch Andres Raid’s story about Enefit’s Utah oil shale project here).

Wasatch Winter: A Month of Action for Clean Air!

If you find yourself traveling through a low-hanging cloud of smog, with five big refineries, a medical waste incinerator, and the outlines of the world’s largest copper mine barely discernible through the pollution, you are not in fact in a post-apocalyptic landscape, but simply experiencing a regular inversion day in the Valley. Welcome to Salt Lake City — where the legislature seems to be remarkably good at catering to the non-breathing, lung-less part of the population, while ignoring the rest. That’s why we’re calling for a month of action for clean air throughout February.

VIEW THE WASASTCH WINTER CALENDAR OF EVENTS.

Salt-Lake-Smog

Salt Lake City often has the worst air quality in the nation, especially during the winter inversion.

We invite all air breathers, organizations, and community groups to organize events, actions, and activities that spotlight air quality issues. Join the Wasatch Winter—a month of action for clean air—and make yourself heard!

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Enefit’s Investment Rating Downgraded “due to challenges associated with development of oil shale activities”

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Utah’s hopeful oil shale miner, Enefit, (aka Estonian Energy) suffers a painful credit rating decrease.

“Moody’s said that the rating action reflects the development of Eesti Energia’s business risk profile in light of the increasing integration of the Baltic and Nordic power markets, coupled with generally weak levels of wholesale power prices and CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF OIL SHALE ACTIVITIES.”

It looks increasingly unlikely that Enefit is able of borrowing what it would need to start oil shale production in the US. Utahns should take note that Rikki Hrencko and the Enefit crew are taking us for a ride–a very costly ride.

We’d like to think Moody’s knew UTSR was in Uintah Basin this week causing trouble and knew we’d leave Enefit in money shambles. Grassroots resistance is one of Enefit’s “challenges associated with the development of oil shale activities.”

Read the full article in The Baltic Course.

Join us this Saturday, January 25th, at 6PM for a discussion on Enefit.
Enefit: Estonian Oil Shale in Eastern Utah?
at the Mexican Federation of Clubs (344 South Goshen Street (1040 West), SLC, UT)

Red Leaf’s Controversial Utah Oil Shale Project Challenged

(Reposted from the Grand Canyon Trust)

aerial-view-of-red-leaf-resources-utah-oil-shale-facility-1024x682

An aerial view of Red Leaf Resources’ Utah oil shale facility. | Photo courtesy Taylor McKinnon (Grand Canyon Trust) and Bruce Gordon (Ecoflight)

For Immediate Release, January 22, 2014

Contact:
Rob Dubuc, Western Resource Advocate, (801) 487-9911
John Weisheit, Living Rivers, (435) 259-1063
Taylor McKinnon, Grand Canyon Trust, (801) 300-2414
Shelley Silbert, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, (970) 385-9577
Tim Wagner, Sierra Club, (801) 502-5450

Controversial Utah Oil Shale Project Challenged

38,000 Public Comments Opposed Plan Threatening Aquifers, Seeps and Springs

SALT LAKE CITY— Oil shale strip mining atop Utah’s Book Cliffs is being challenged by conservation groups. The challenge is a “request for agency action” filed Tuesday, over the ground water discharge permit approved by the Utah Department of Water Quality. The permit, which authorizes Red Leaf Resources to test an oil shale mining facility, lacks measures to prevent or detect surface or groundwater pollution, in violation of state law. More than 38,000 public comments were sent to the Department opposing an earlier draft of the flawed plan.

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