US Oil Sands PR Springs project sits idle.

Daily observation shows  a lot of nothing really happening at the PR Springs tar processing factory and the million dollar machines that are yet to actually work. The 99 acres including the beloved Children’s Legacy camp site are cleared of visible life and the tar layers are exposed even some “ore” has been collected and piled at the bottom of a giant conveyor belt that never moves. A few workers are on site. No longer needed is the 25 person bus from vernal that arrived every weekday last summer. 2 or 3 vehicles arrive on some days and work in the factory compound. No activity is happening at the mine pit.

USOS has disclosed the lack of funds and inability to actually operate its process for 30 days as most recently promised and expects to operate for 5 days to show it can. But can it? USOS has been just about to produce oil since 2008. They have paid the corporate heads a lot of money over the years and spent a lot on the “factory” and mine but no oil has been produced. This is a victory for Earth!

My research reveals a lucrative scam that has been enriching some and harming most for many years. There are key players and paid politicians who have been perpetuating the get rich pipe dream.

The truth is tar sands or oil shale strip mining, upgrading into a use-able fuel and delivering to a viable market at a profit is a far off pipe dream in Eastern Utah.

One can take a look at Canada and the reality of tar sands mining in Alberta to understand the amount of infrastructure and energy involved in the commercial production of oil. Literally billions of dollars were spent on the mines, factories and infrastructure to deliver the tar before ANY profit was returned on the investment.
Even though policy makers in Utah have repeatedly claimed there is more oil here than in Saudi Arabia the reality is that the tar sands and oil shale are rocks and sand mixed with bitumen or kerogen, lacking the water molecules present in Athabasca tar sands and cannot be extracted the same way it has been done in Canada. Several attempts have been made and many false claims have been repeated by various start ups and even a few big oil names over the years yet none of these hopefuls have made any commercial product.
On the other hand the history shows a poor regulatory effort including out right instructions in the record of how to avoid certain regulatory triggers and admitted failure to enforce clean up or “reclamation” policies, revolving doors from corporate to government and back, boom and bust cycles with real folks loosing their jobs and more plus real scum bags paying them selves big salaries for running these great scams.

We continue to resist tar sands and oil shale development by exposing the scams.

Our 2015 Permanent Protest Vigil Has Launched!

Two weeks ago, tar sands resisters returned to the East Tavaputs Plateau to set up an ongoing protest vigil on the land leased for tar sands extraction. We came to witness, to document, to show people the land and inspire them to stand against tar sands, oil shale, and all extreme extraction.

We are now excited to tell the world that we’re back, and we’re not leaving until US Oil Sands gives up and goes home.

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In this remote area of the Book Cliffs, a start-up company called US Oil Sands has leased 32,000 acres of land managed by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) for tar sands mining. Based in Alberta, Canada, US Oil Sands is a striking example of how corporations pay no mind to the same borders through which regular people are so often denied access. The company says it plans to begin commercial production in late 2015.

Tar sands mining would turn this lush wilderness into a bleak moonscape of gray rubble. It would level the canyons teeming with life, and send toxins into the waterways that feed the Colorado River, which 40 million people rely on for survival. And because tar sands refining is an incredibly dirty process–even compared to refining of regular crude–it would also pump toxins into the air of people in Salt Lake City. All this would support the production of a low-grade fuel that would never even be feasible without heavy subsidies, because it takes much more energy to extract than regular crude.

UTSR Vigil 2Last year, our ongoing protest vigil lasted through US Oil Sands’ work season, from mid-May through late October. We hosted numerous groups and individuals at our public gatherings, giving people tours of the land and inviting them to become part of the popular resistance against tar sands mining and for a livable future.

We’re thrilled to be returning to the land we love so deeply. It’s a land with a rich history, part of the Uintah Ute Band’s homeland and their traditional hunting grounds. It’s a land filled with bears, cougars, coyotes, and countless other species. So far this year, we’ve seen deer, elk, turkeys, and a coyote. And lately, it’s been a land of rolling thunder and sudden downpours, but fortunately we spent last summer practicing our tarping skills. 

Please DONATE to this effort to help make our protest vigil a huge success!

Things seemed quiet on US Oil Sands’ work site at first, though we witnessed some activity this week. We know it’s awfully hard for those big machines to work on muddy ground–the East Tavaputs Plateau has been holding her own against the ongoing violence enacted against her.

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This vigil–and the many direct actions that various groups and individuals have taken against the tar sands mine–are necessary because we don’t seem likely to win this battle through the court system. On June 12, 2014, the EPA issued an order to US Oil Sands demanding that they gain additional permitting to deal with stormwater runoff before continuing with their project, because they are operating on an area deemed “Indian Country” under federal law. The company continued bulldozing, and nobody made them stop–that is, until 80 folks took direct action in July, shutting them down for a week. But during that action, the police worked to arrest the folks taking action and protect the company, paying no mind to the fact that they were operating illegally.

Living Rivers is pursuing a legal challenge to the mine. Their first case was dismissed on a technicality by the Utah Supreme Court in June 2014, but they recently filed another suit that cites more recent evidence of how US Oil Sands would pollute the watershed of the Green and Colorado Rivers. We fully support Living Rivers and believe this is necessary work, but we aren’t banking on the court system–and we hope you aren’t either.

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Back at the home front, we’ve been preparing for upcoming gatherings like the June 19-21 Intergeneration Campout. We look forward to sharing this summer and fall with new and old friends, witnessing all the plateau’s seasons along with the growth of our vibrant community of resistance. We hope to see you soon on the East Tavaputs Plateau!

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