Tag Archives: PR Springs

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Utah Tar Sands

After a massive direct action protest today at the site of U.S. Oil Sands’ tar sands strip-mining site, a total of 21 were arrested and are currently awaiting charges at Uintah County Jail in Vernal, Utah. In addition to protestors, those acting as legal observers, independent media, and jail support were arrested, as well as several indigenous and trans individuals whose safety we are deeply concerned about.

Early this morning land defenders locked themselves to equipment being used to clear-cut and grade an area designated for the tar sands’ companies processing plant, as well as a fenced “cage” used to store the equipment. Others formed a physical blockade with their bodies to keep work from happening, and to protect those locked-down to the equipment. Banners were also hung off the cage that read: “You are trespassing on Ute land” and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.”

13 people were arrested for locking to equipment. An additional six people were arrested after sitting in the road to prevent the removal of those being taken away in two police vans. Two of the protesters arrested were injured. One was taken a nearby hospital to be treated, while the other is being treated at the Uintah County Jail. The nature of their injuries is not being disclosed by the county sheriffs.

Two additional people were arrested when they arrived at Uintah Country Jail to provide support to the land defenders inside. An estimated 10 armed deputies with police dogs were standing outside the jail wearing bullet proof vests. Those at the jail to provide support were told that the deputies were there to “deter” any supporters from actually coming to the jail.

Currently all 21 individuals are still being processed and held.

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PRESS RELEASE: Opponents to enforce shutdown of tar sands mine today

July 21, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Opponents to enforce shutdown of tar sands mine today

PR SPRINGS, Utah–About 80 climate justice land defenders right now are using their bodies to halt construction of a tar sands strip mine in the Book Cliffs of Utah.

The action is the culmination of a week-long direct action training camp within 2 miles of the mine. Participants of Climate Justice Summer Camp travelled from numerous organizations, states and sovereign tribal nations to learn direct action skills and build networks.

In recent weeks, Calgary, Canada-based US Oil Sands began a new and devastating phase in construction of the first tar sands mine in the United States. Nearly 80 acres of forest and sage land have been leveled.

US Oil sands has construction permits on 212 acres of pristine wilderness and strip mine land leases on 32,000 acres. Opponents say the traditional Ute hunting lands leased by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Land Administration are too fragile and damage would be irreversible.

Numerous states and local governments question the wisdom of tar sands and oil shale projects in the Colorado River Basin. That system—which provides drinking water to 40 million people in the US, Mexico and native communities—is already severely over-tapped and endangered by industrial waste contaminants.

“Indigenous people’s sacred lands for hundreds of generations here would be destroyed after a few generations of American settler colonialism,” says Jessica Lee, on behalf of the land defenders. “US Oil Sands perfectly demonstrates capitalism’s brazen disregard for the climate crisis, human and tribal rights and rights of the planet itself to be free of dangerous corporate parasites.”

The United States Environmental Protection Agency this month joined the crowd demanding answers from the tar sands company. EPA’s letter indicates US Oil Sands may need tribal authorization for their project due to lease acres bordering and sometimes occurring in “Indian country.”

EPA also has concerns about toxic and hazardous waste from the project. The construction site is immediately upstream of one of the major river systems of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, the stunning Willow Creek Canyon area. The company has never sought Ute Tribal Government approval.

What is Climate Justice?

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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

 

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

 

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.

Hey Cameron Todd, will you define “exceptional” for us?

Hey, Cameron Todd, CEO of US Oil Sands, we’ve got a question about your latest press release. When you say: “Our first quarter (Jan-March 2014) has been an exceptional period for our Company, as we transitioned the PR Spring Project from the design stage to the execution and build stage,” what exactly are you talking about?

10168011_632972730143039_3908803861316871109_n

US Oil Sands’ PR Springs “test” tar sands strip-mine (April, 2014)

Because this doesn’t look like an “exceptional period” of “execution” and growth to us. This looks like a mine site that was abandoned over the winter, when it was covered in snow and the roads were impassable. This looks like a strip-mine where no construction happened for months, all the equipment was removed, and absolutely no work was done.

So Cameron, buddy, just so we’re clear: when you say “exceptional period” you’re basically lying to make things look good for your investors, right?

Good. Glad we had this talk.

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).

Utah Tar Sands Intergenerational Campout – June 20-22

intergeneraltional meme 2

Join us June 20-22 for an intergenerational campout, bringing together families to project future generations from the Utah tar sands.

This is a unique opportunity to camp out in the scenic Book Cliffs of Eastern Utah with your family and friends and a group of people dedicated to climate justice.

Fun and informative activities will be planned throughout the weekend for adults and children of various ages.

Last year a group of families converged at PR Springs, site of the first proposed tar sands mine in the United States. While there, everyone from a 2-year-old, pre-teens, and Grandparents spent time exploring the land with local organizers, hiking, bird watching, water-testing, and, most importantly, learning about US Oil Sands’ project, and witnessing the devastation already being wrought by their 9-acre test site.

The School & Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), the State of Utah, and US Oil Sands would have us believe that the tar sands & oil shale projects moving forward in Eastern Utah are all for the benefit of the children. For, they would say, isn’t all the money from the Trust Lands being leased for extreme fossil fuel development going towards education? No. SITLA’s annual contribution to education accounts for only about 1 percent of the state’s $3 billion-plus education budget. With every parcel of stolen land leased for development and extraction, and every acre sacrificed, the more the land is devastated, the water put at risk and polluted, and the air filled with dust and toxins, the future of our children, and of future generations, becomes more and more bleak.

The short term gains from destroying the Book Cliffs, and turning Colorado Plateau into a sacrifice zone, is not worth the future of our children. Come see what’s at risk. Come take a stand.

***** SO THAT WE CAN BETTER ORGANIZE FOOD, CARPOOLING & CAMPING SITES, EMAIL US AT tarsandsresist@riseup.net IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON COMING. *****

FOR DIRECTIONS TO THE AREA & TIPS FOR CAMPING, VISIT OUR CONNECT WITH THE LAND PAGE.

Canadian Company Called U.S. Oil Sands Will Soon Start Extracting Utah’s Tar Sands

by Anne Landman (reposted from DesmogBlog)

Grand_Junction_Trip_92007_012Think only Canadians need to worry about tar sands extraction? Think again.

In October, U.S. Oil Sands, Inc. joined Kentucky-based Arrakis Oil Recovery as the second company to receive a permit to produce U.S. tar sands. The Utah Water Quality Board gave U.S. Oil Sands a permit to extract 2,000 barrels of oil per day from Utah’s tar sands reserves.

Despite its name, U.S. Oil Sands is actually a Canadian outfit based in Calgary, Alberta. The company currently holds leases on just over 32,000 acres in Utah’s Uintah Basin. U.S. Oil Sands’ mining will take place at PR Spring on the Colorado Plateau in an area called the Bookcliffs, which straddles the Utah/Colorado border.

U.S. Oil Sands’ water-and-energy-intensive extraction process involves first digging up congealed tar sands, then crushing them to reduce their size. The company then mixes the crushed sand with large amounts of hot water (at a temperature of 122-176°F) to loosen up and liquefy the tarry, oil-containing residue and separating it from the sand.

Next, coarse solids sink, are subsequently removed and considered waste tailings. Air is then bubbled through the remaining water-oil mixture, which makes the oil float to the top in what’s referred to as “bitumen froth,” in industry lingo. The froth is then deaerated, meaning all the air molecules are removed.

When it finally gets to this point in the production process, the mixture is still so thick it can’t be pumped through pipelines.

Thus, it undergoes even more treatment with a hydrocarbon solvent to reduce the viscosity and density of the sludge. Wastes from the process — which contain water contaminated with chemicals and unrecoverable oils — are called “middlings” and will be disposed of in surface tailings ponds and kept long-term.

Commercial Viability, Few Jobs, Utah Water Crisis

U.S. Oil Sands received the Utah Water Quality Board permit despite questions raised about its potential commercial viability and an ongoing water crisis in Utah and the U.S. southwest at-large.

According to a press release on the U.S. Oil Sands website, the company managed to obtain $81 million in financing in October 2013, and says the project is “fully funded.” U.S. Oil Sands makes this claim even though a March 2013 Record of Decision by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management cautioned investors that “this resource is not, at present, a proven commercially viable energy source.”

Additionally, as part of its PR offensive, U.S. Oil Sands is touting that the project will create 75 to 100 high-paying, steady jobs. But given the destruction inherent in tar sands mining, not to mention the climate impacts of this dirty oil, many are likely to view this corporate pitch of several dozen jobs as offensive on its face.

Further, excessive water usage in a drought-stricken west is another concern that citizens have with the project.

A letter written by the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining said, “It is expected that the mine will use 116 gallons of water per minute on a 24-hour basis, which equates to approximately 180 acre-feet per year” and that a production rate of 2,000 barrels of crude a day will consume approximately 4,000 barrels of water per day.

Opposition to US Tar Sands Building

An organized citizens alliance has sprung up to try to block the U.S. tar sands project.

Members of Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Peaceful Uprising, Utah-based activist groups, crashed an annual gathering of U.S. Oil Sands’ investors in May 2013, disrupting the meeting with protests. The activists promised stiff opposition to the project.

Additionally, Peaceful Uprising went to the PR Springs demonstration site last year to conduct a nonviolent protest to disrupt the project. They walked onto the site carrying protest signs and banners, climbed on actively working track hoes, sat and stood in front of dump trucks and mining equipment and linked arms in a human chain to block the movement of graders and scrapers.

Co-founded by “Bidder 70,” Tim DeChristopher, Peaceful Uprising is considering organizing a “spring break” grassroots protest of the Utah tar sands project this year, inviting people to join them to learn community organizing and direct action skills first-hand. They will do the trip if enough people sign up.

Before it Starts is another group concerned that the project amounts to an environmental and climate disaster slated to irreversibly impact the Tavaputs Plateau area of eastern Utah. They did a “Tar Sands Roadshow” last spring, an educational presentation in which members will travel around Utah and western Colorado explaining the impacts of the tar sands project and how it will affect the nearby lands.

While much is yet to be clarified about U.S. Oil Sands intentions in Utah, one thing is for certain: U.S. tar sands development faces stiff grassroots opposition before the prospective developers even get started.

Frank Giustra, President Bill Clinton’s Close Colleague, Joins US Oil Sands Board

UPDATE 10/18/2013: “Due to other commitments, Frank Giustra will not be appointed to the Board.” (Perhaps due the risky nature of tar sands investing).

by Steve Horn (reposted from DesmogBlog)

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 1.11.43 PMFrank Giustra – key power broker and close colleague of former President Bill Clinton – has taken a seat on the Board of Directors of U.S. Oil Sands, an Alberta-based company aiming to develop tar sands deposits in Utah’s Uintah Basin. **UPDATE: Although he was named a prospective appointee to the Board, Mr. Giustra ultimately declined the position, citing “other commitments.”**

U.S. Oil Sands – in naming several new members to its Board – also announced it has received $80 million in “strategic financing” from Blue Pacific Investments Group Ltd., Anchorage Capital Group, L.L.C. and Spitfire Ventures, LLC.

The funding will help get the ball rolling on “tar sands south,” a miniature but increasingly controversial version of its big brother to the north, the Alberta tar sands. Giustra will likely help in opening the right doors for tar sands industry interests in the United States.

Giusta is best known for his work in the worlds of uranium mining and minerals mining, though he has dabbled in the Alberta tar sands finance world once before, lending upwards of $20 million in capital to Excelsior Energy. He serves as CEO and President of Fiore Financial Corporation.

Founder and Director of the Radcliffe Foundation and Co-Director of the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (formerly known as the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative), Frank Giustra has maintained close ties with Bill Clinton since 2005.

The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative is an arm of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation (the Clinton Foundation). Giustra sits on the Clinton Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Clinton_familyGiustra also sits on the Board of Directors of Petromanas Energy Inc., an oil and gas company with assets including 1.1 million acres in Albania, 170,000 acres in France and 1.6 million acres in Australia.

Clinton and Giustra have been instrumental in forging a major oil deal in Colombia and a major nuclear uranium mining deal in Kazakhstan, among other things.

Opening Doors in Colombia

In a February 2008 article, ”Clinton Used Giustra’s Plane, Opened Doors for Deals,” Bloomberg mapped out the close relationship between Clinton and Giustra that began in 2005. 

“Clinton was borrowing [Giustra's private jet] to begin a four-day speaking tour of Latin America that would pay him $800,000,” Bloomberg detailed. “Frank Giustra…was forming a friendship that would make him part of the former president’s inner circle and gain him introductions to presidents of Kazakhstan and Colombia.”

Clinton’s effort to connect Giustra to former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was related to oil developments.

Álvaro_Uribe_Vélez“Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp., spent more than $250 million to purchase control of a company that operated Colombian oil fields in conjunction with Ecopetrol S.A., the national oil company,” explained The Wall Street Journal. “Pacific Rubiales has also signed a pipeline deal with Ecopetrol and been invited by the Colombian national petroleum agency to do further oil-development work in the country.”

Giustra’s Endeavor Financial Corporation provided the money for the Pacific Rubiales buyout, where he served as Chairman from 2001-2007. Giustra’s Fiore Financial Corporation maintains an “exclusive strategic alliance” with Endeavor Financial, which “provide[s] Endeavour with unique deal making and investment capabilities.”

Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership lists Pacific Rubiales, the Colombian government and Endeavor Mining (the mining wing of Endeavor Financial Corporation) among its current PartnersThe Wall Street Journal explained that Pacific Rubiales gave over $3 million to the Partnership, and Giustra put over $100 million of his own cash into the pot.

From Kazakhstani Uranium Shell Company to Clinton Foundation Trustee

Giustra’s self-serving philantrophy also took him and Clinton to Kazakhstan in September 2007, as documented in a January 2008 New York Times investigation.

Paralleling their Colombia activities, Clinton played the role of “doorman,” opening doors for Giustra to meet key leaders in the giant Central Asian state.

Kazakhstan-CIA_WFB_Map“Within two days [of the beginning of the trip], corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company [UrAsia Energy Ltd.] signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom,” wrote The Times.

“The monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra.”

Like in Colombia, the deal was a win-win for Clinton and Giustra.

“Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra,” The Times further explained.

“The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle…Giustra [also] co-produced a gala 60th birthday for Mr. Clinton that featured stars like Jon Bon Jovi and raised about $21 million for the Clinton Foundation.”

Bon_Jovi_O2_Arena_Circle_TourWithin a year and a half, Giustra sold off his stake in the Kazatomprom joint venture for $3.1 billion, which he had originally purchased for $450 million.

Giustra, Clinton Opening Doors for US Tar Sands Development?

With their history of partnering up on business deals worldwide, front-line Utah environmental activists fear the Uintah Basin could be next on the list for Frank Giustra and Bill Clinton.

“There have been efforts to squeeze oil from the tar sands and oil shale along the Colorado Plateau for decades, and ultimately these projects fail due to their experimental, energy intensive, and risky nature,” Jessica Lee, an activist with Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance said in an interview with DeSmogBlog.

Giustra’s presence on the Board, Lee believes, may give U.S. tar sands the credibility they currently lack in the eyes of capital investors.

“The real risk here is that investors will view Giustra and the other board members involvement as attractive, and will throw their own money away into a speculative investment,” she said. “Frank Giustra will not stay behind to clean up the mess U.S. Oil Sands leaves, pocketing whatever money he can and leaving Utah with a wasteland.”

Utah children visit PR Springs & speak out against tar sands

On June 22nd, 2013, as part of the 4th Annual Global Earth Exchange, and #FearlessSummer, a group of Utah children traveled to PR Springs, the site of the first proposed Tar Sands mining project in the United States.

They created a work of art in appreciation for Mother Earth, made entirely of objects found around the mine, and spoke in opposition to the Tar Sands.

UTSR Global Earth Exchange

(Photo by Steve Liptay)

UTSR Danger Mine Site

(photo by Steve Liptay)