Formal Complaint and Request for Action Against MCW Energy Group

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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

Storm Brewing: Permanent protest setup at proposed tar sands strip mine

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People hold a giant banner inside the tar sands mine. The banner reads: Climate Justice is Survival Now Or Never.

Last weekend, tar sands resisters new and old gathered in the Book Cliffs of so-called Eastern Utah, at PR Springs, site of the first proposed tar sands mine in the United States. This gathering marked nearly three years of observation, law suits, and direct action against the project, and signaled the beginning of a permanent protest vigil inside the boundaries of public lands leased for strip mining.

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U.S. Oil Sands, of Calgary, Alberta, has leased over 32,000 acres of land traditionally inhabited by Ute and Shoshone people. The land is now managed by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), and sits just outside the Northern Ute Ouray Reservation. The company has yet to begin full-scale production, and has spent the last year procuring their permits from the Department of Water Quality, wrangling $80 million from fly-by-night investors, and hiring Kellogg Brown & Root LLC (KBR) for project and construction management.

music: “Without Water,” KleeBenally.com

In March, Living Rivers brought U.S. Oil Sands (USOS) and the Department of Water Quality (DWQ) to the Utah Supreme Court, whose ruling we eagerly await, arguing that the permits given to USOS had failed to take into consideration the devastating impacts the strip-mining project would have on the precious groundwater in the region. DWQ stated that there was not enough groundwater to be of concern (though geologists from the University of Utah have found otherwise in their extensive study of the region’s groundwater systems) and is not requiring USOS to take any measures in their disposal of waste water used during their highly experimental and unproven new tar sands mining process. US Oil Sands is fond of stating that their project will use very little water, as it is completely dependent on a chemical called d-limonene (an expensive solvent, at $36/gallon), but their permit application itself states that they will still require 116 gallons of water per minute, which they have failed to procured in the five water wells they’ve drilled that tap into the Mesaverde Aquifer. In an interview published this week, the company stated that they’ve “hit on the idea of using a dryer” as part of the extraction process, though no data has been released about this, and it remains to be seen if the company has updated their permits to include this new technology.

SONY DSCIn the same interview, Cameron Todd, the CEO of U.S. Oil Sands, stated, “We’re fully permitted and we’ve actually started work in the field already although most of the work won’t be done until next summer.”

In a May 14th press release, the company stated that they would  be completing Phase 1 of their project, at a cost of nearly $60 million, though their current stock price has halved from their $0.24 high to a measly $0.12, and mentions commercial start-up date of 2015.

This proposed time-line remains consistent with the company’s history, as they have pushed back full production year after year, having had a difficult time finding investors for a very risky project, and having been fought, both in the courts and in the very mine itself, by groups and individuals who vow that they will see the project stopped.

Last weekend’s act of civil disobedience saw protestors walk onto a the company’s 10-acre test mine with a huge banner reading “Climate Justice is Survival: Now or Never.”

While the land itself, once stolen from the Ute tribe, is destroyed, as carcinogens such as arsenic, mercury and uranium are leeched into the watershed, as tar sands and oil shale strip-mining add to the criminally toxic air quality of the Uintah Basin, and as the tar sands are trucked nearly 200 miles each day to Salt Lake City to be refined in poor and predominantly Latino neighborhoods, the Utah tar sands themselves are but one small piece of the global extraction monster. The fossil fuels our society has made itself dependent on have caused a man-made climate change emergency, and it is up to us to take a stand a say, “no more.” Tar sands are the bottom of the barrel, one of the dirtiest forms of energy found, and one that required mass amounts of resources to extract while proving very little usable energy. The Utah tar sands must remain in the ground if we have any hope of a livable future, and a coalition of passionate and dedicated people have taken a stand, saying “no tar sands!”

This summer, land defenders stand in vigil and protest, observing the actions and movement of U.S. Oil Sands, as well as several other tar sands and oil shale companies with greedy claims on the region, determining what areas are to be clear-cut or tested, and what infrastructure is built, as they prepare to stop them.

READ THE PRESS RELEASE.

US’s first tar sands mine facing opposition in Utah (KPFK Earth Watch)

Melanie Martin discusses growing opposition to tar sands mining in eastern Utah, and the disproportionate impact of Salt Lake City’s oil refineries on communities of color and low-income neighborhoods on KPFK’s Sojourner Truth Radio.

July 24-29: Canyon Country Action Camp

UPDATE 7/31/13:
Check out the full report on action camp and the amazing action that resulted by going to http://www.peacefuluprising.org/actioncampaction
Utah Tar Sands Direct Action CampJoin our friends Peaceful Uprising and Canyon Country Rising Tide for the Utah Tar Sands Direct Action Training Camp, July 24-29th.

In an effort to create a dynamic and diverse learning space, they are asking that everyone planning on attending the camp fill out this application. Application deadline is July 1st. They will get back to you as soon as possible (by July 10th at the latest).

Canyon Country Action Camp