Public Hearing on Grand County’s proposals for the Bishop Process

Wednesday April 23rd
6:00 PM at the Grand Center (182 N. 500 W.)BookCliffTarSandsOilShale

Now is the time to have your voice heard! It’s very important that we all show up to this meeting to tell the County Council that none of their alternatives is good enough. It looks like the Council is catering to industry at the expense of residents health, well being, and against our wishes. Let’s show them who they are supposed to be representing!

In all three of the County’s proposal is an area set aside to build a highway through the Book Cliffs. Exercising our power as a county to stop this “Hydrocarbon Highway” from connecting tar sands mines to a refinery in Green River is crucial. This is our last legal opportunity to intervene in the extraction of the world’s dirtiest fuel, tar sands.

SUWA points out:
Unfortunately, even the best alternative (Alternative #3) proposed by the Working Committee would roll back environmental protection in Grand County.

Protects just over half (58%, or 484,446 acres) of the proposed wilderness in Grand County — and then riddles that “protected wilderness” with ORV routes.
Would punch a hole through the heart of the Book Cliffs — one of the largest remaining roadless areas in the lower 48 states — to build a “Hydrocarbon Highway” for fossil fuels extraction.


Leaves open to oil and gas drilling the entire viewshed east of Arches National Park, including the world-famous view from Delicate Arch, and allows oil and gas drilling and potash mining on the rim of Labyrinth Canyon (upstream from Spring Canyon).


Supports continued off-road vehicle abuse and offers zero concessions on ORV routes designated in the Bush-era BLM travel plan.


Fails to protect Moab’s watershed.


Prohibits the use of the Antiquities Act in Grand County — the same act that was used by three different presidents to protect what is now Arches National Park.

Alternatives 1 & 2 are even worse.

The Beehive Design Collective Presents: ¡Mesoamérica Resiste!

Come one! Come all! The Beehive Design Collective presents their new poster ¡Mesoamérica Resiste!

Join us 6:00 Friday May 9th
at the pavilion outside at the Moab Valley Multicultural Center (156 N 100)

The Beehive Design Collectivemesoamerica-resiste1 is a wildly motivated, all volunteer, activist artist collective that has gained international attention for their collaboratively produced graphics campaigns focusing on globalization, resource extraction, and stories of resistance. “Mesoamérica Resiste” is their most recent project, a culmination of 9 years of story gathering in Mesoamérica, research, and illustration. The intricate, double-sided image documents resistance to the top-down development plans and mega-infrastructure projects that literally pave the way for resource extraction and free trade. It highlights stories of cross-border grassroots social movements and collective action, especially organizing led by Indigenous peoples.

For more detailed information and images on this project we recommend checking out their website youtube video and Facebook event.

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Tar Sands Spring Science Campout

Join us for a family friendly camp out in the Book Cliffs on the weekend of April 12th & 13th.

Rainbow over the Tar SandsWe encourage especially Scientist, students, and nature enthusiasts on this particular outing.

We will be hiking around area leased for tar sands mining, doing stream flow monitoring, water sampling,  bird and plant cataloging, and monitoring “progress” on the active mine and road. There will be discussions about strategic resistance and opportunities to network with folks from other areas in the region.

We will camp at PR Spring, a BLM campground on the Tavaputs Plateau **

Be prepared for high elevation camping and bring your own food. The weather is tumultuous this time of year, so be prepared for anything (snow, foot deep mud, wind, hail, or HEAT!)  There is a spring at the camp area. 4WD is necessary, though there are options to car pool with someone going up already.

**RSVP for detailed directions and carpooling options! email canyoncountryrisingtide@gmail.com or call Sarah at 435 260 8557

Peaceful Demonstrators Stage Road Blockade and Prayer Ceremony at Site of Proposed Tar Sands Strip Mine in Utah

StumbleUpon Print

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Inside the US Oil Sands tar sands test pit after shutting down mine operations.

 

Communities Vow to Protect Colorado River System from Dirty Energy Extraction

Bookcliffs Range, Utah–Dozens of individuals peacefully disrupted road construction and stopped operations today at the site of a proposed tar sands mine in the Bookcliffs range of southeastern Utah. Earlier this morning, Utahns joined members of indigenous tribes from the Four Corners region and allies from across the country for a water ceremony inside the mine site on the East Tavaputs Plateau. Following the ceremony, a group continued to stop work at the mine site while others halted road construction, surrounding heavy machinery with banners reading “Respect Existence or Expect Existence” and “Tar Sands Wrecks Lands”.

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Indigenous people lead everyone to bless the water and pray for the injured land at the site of the tar sands test pit where work was stopped.

“The proposed tar sands and oil shale mines in Utah threaten nearly 40 million people who rely on the precious Colorado River System for their life and livelihood,” said Emily Stock, a seventh generation Utahn from Grand County, and organizer with Canyon Country Rising Tide. “The devastating consequence of dirty energy extraction knows no borders, and we stand together to protect and defend the rights of all communities, human and non-human,” Stock said.

Monday’s events are the culmination of a week-long Canyon Country Action Camp, where people from the Colorado Plateau and across the nation gathered to share skills in civil disobedience and nonviolent direct action. Utah’s action training camp and today’s action are affiliated with both Fearless Summer and Summer Heat, two networks coordinating solidarity actions against the fossil fuel industry’s dirty energy extraction during the hottest weeks of the year.

“Impacted communities are banding together to stop Utah’s development of tar sands and oil shale. We stand in solidarity because we know that marginalized communities at points of extraction, transportation, and refining will suffer the most from climate change and dirty energy extraction,” said Camila Apaza-Mamani, who grew up in Utah.

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Lock-downs in combination with mobile blockades were used to enforced a for a full-day work stoppage at Seep Ridge Road.

US Oil Sands, a Canadian corporation, has received all the required regulatory permits to mine for tar sands in the region, and could scale up operations within a year. Although preliminary work has already begun, the company still lacks the necessary investment capital for the project. Today’s actions and lawsuits filed last week pose new challenges to the company’s plans, and those of other corporations exploring tar sands and oil shale plays on the Colorado Plateau, such as Red Leaf Resources and Enefit.

The region is known for its remote high desert land, vital groundwater resources, diversity of wildlife and sites sacred to regional indigenous people. Tar sands operations requires intensive water and energy for mining and refining processes, and Utah’s strip mining operations would likely yield only low grade diesel fuel.

Currently, tar sands from mining operations in Alberta, Canada are being refined in Salt Lake City by Chevron Corporation. As the refining industry in Utah seeks to expand, communities alongside the refineries already suffer from adverse health impacts and according to a recent study, Salt Lake City boasts the worst air quality in the United States.

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Opposition to road expansion spans workers, ranchers, hunters and climate justice advocates.

Additionally, rural communities like Green River, Utah face the risk of new refinery proposals to process tar sands and oil shale, electricity generating stations and even a nuclear power plant.

“The networks of groups and individuals taking action today in Utah have come together in an alliance that is historically unprecedented for this region. We join with others around the world, forming a coordinated response to these threats to our air, water, land, communities and to the larger climate impacts of this dirty energy development model,” said Lauren Wood, a seventh generation Utahn and third generation Green River outfitter.

Utah’s School Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), the agency leasing the land for tar sands mining to US Oil Sands, is tasked with administering state lands for the benefit of public institutions such as schools.

“Tar sands strip mining would be worst thing for the state, this country and the world. Although SITLA professes to care about the children, it consistently puts short term economic gain over the long term health of the very children it professes to benefit,” says Stock.

“There are no jobs on a dead planet. We need heroes not puppets of corporate interest who steal from current and future generations to line the pockets of a greedy few, at the expense of our communities and our environment,” said Stock.

Groups have vowed to continue their efforts to protect the Colorado River System and are planning future demonstrations and actions to stop the tar sands strip mining and other “dirty energy projects” across the region.

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People stopped work at the Seep Ridge Road public highway project, which is intended to accelerate destruction of the East Tavaputs Plateau for extreme extraction projects, including tar sands strip mining.

News Roundup:

KSL(video)- Activists protest proposed Utah tar sands mine, shut down road project

Deseret News (slideshow) -Activists protest proposed Utah tar sands mine, shut down road project

Salt Lake Tribune – Protesters halt road work near eastern Utah tar sands mine

Earth First! Newswire (photos) – Climate Justice Activists Occupy Two Tar Sands Mining Sites in Utah

ABC4- Utahns Protest Tar Sands Mine

AP: Protesters converge on Utah oil-sands pit

The Road to Hell is Paved with Tar Sands: Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Allies Confront Tar Sands and Oil Shale Road Development on the Colorado Plateau

As part of the Fearless Summer week of solidarity actions against extreme energy, Utah Tar Sands Resistance and allies confronted road construction crews on Seep Ridge Road, and expressed determination to stop both the road itself and what it is literally paving the way for–tar sands, oil shale and fracking across the Colorado River Basin (at an estimated cost of $3 million per mile).

Tavapoots!

Photo by Max Wilbert

Seep Ridge, formerly a small dirt road, is now becoming a site of immense devastation as areas of Uintah County are clear cut, leveled, and ultimately pave from just south of Ouray, Utah, to the Uintah/Grand county line atop the Book Cliffs, a distance of some 44.5 miles. Eventually, this road may connect to I-70, though development of the Grand County leg has not been approved and is already meeting with resistance.

Construction of this “Road To Nowhere” is destroying wildlife habitat, and the road itself, once complete, would facilitate the growth of a potential energy colony which would only serve to wreak more destruction of this already fragile ecosystem.

This action took place after a family campout, which gathered adults and children of various ages at the proposed site of the first tar sands mining in the United States–PR Springs, in the scenic Book Cliffs of Eastern Utah, on the Tavaputs Plateau.

UTSR was joined by members of Peaceful UprisingCanyon Country Rising TideDGR Great Basin, the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, and others.

Check out these amazing kids: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BufXi385hzc

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Photo by Max Wilbert

Photo by Max Wilbert
Photo by Max Wilbert

An Earth Day Ode to Greater Canyonlands

by Emily S.

The second annual Moab Earth Day Bazaar: an Ode to Greater Canyonlands was once again a great success. Organized by Canyon Country Rising Tide and SUWA, this year’s festivities brought hundreds of locals and visitors to Moab’s Swanny City Park to enjoy live music, art and craft vendors, food vendors, and many children’s activities. Local non-profits shared their visions with the community, with topics including wildlife rehabilitation, Utah tar sands mining, uranium mining and milling, oil and gas extraction and, of course, the continuing campaign for a Greater Canyonlands National Monument. We’d like to thank all of the people who came and supported the event and look forward to the third annual Bazaar next year!

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Traversing the Tavaputs Plateau

Elk

Elk

The air is thin up here at 8,000 feet. I’m sitting near the site of the first tar sands mine in the country, P.R. Springs. The sun’s strength diminishes as it approaches the western horizon–snow capped mountains behind layer after layer of high desert ridges.  Somewhere in those folds, the Green River tumbles though Desolation Canyon. I can hear a wild turkey gobble every now and again. The land continues to rise to the south. From that ridge I can make out the La Sals pointing me home, surrounded by miniature Fisher and Adobe Mesas. I could see a large crack in the rock that must be the almighty Colorado rushing through Horsetheif and Westwater. I could even make out the Abajos, Arches National Park, and Grand Junction lighting up for the evening. We saw 24 elk grazing on the ridge. Down below, between the Colorado River and Book Cliffs, is the Cisco desert and the I-70 corridor, fast becoming home to industrial development – evaporation ponds, a waste-water injection well, new home to the Atlas uranium tailings pile, a proposed nuclear power plant, a proposed tar sands refinery.

US Oil Sands test pit at PR Springs

US Oil Sands test pit at PR Springs

From up on top of the incredible Tavaputs Plateau, which sits upon an even greater Colorado Plateau, I am struck with how preposterous it seems that Uintah County is so removed from people’s realities in Grand County. From this vantage point, it is quite obvious that that all this destruction and pollution from fracking, oil, gas, and now tar sands and oil shale is just upstream and is wrapped in a grand plan that involves all of canyon country. My heart weighs heavy after this visit to the mine site. The buoyant notion that logical thinking leaves in me is slowly deflating. “It’s uneconomical, disastrous for the climate, technology is unproven, there’s not enough water”…Well, they’re paving the way quickly and surely.

This road construction stops right at the PR Springs tar sands mine

This road construction stops right at the PR Springs tar sands mine

The drive from the north was sickening. First Roosevelt and Vernal filled with fracking headquarters, brine mixing stations, chemical distributors, giant trucks toting gas and contaminated (or soon to be) water. Then, mile after mile of freshly paved highway through a freshly scarred landscape crisscrossed with pipelines and polka dotted with well pads. The road turned to grated dirt and signs of construction started to pop up. An empty bulldozer sat next to a newly blazed corridor through a hillside. Mile after mile of mangled old growth junipers and pinons lay dead on their sides. We passed small crews operating gigantic road eating machines. Why would they need a road over 100 feet wide? The four lanes lead right to PR Springs and the Red Leaf Resources oil shale operation. Are Uintah County tax payers paying for this? The upgrade of the high-speed, four-lane trucking route stops right at the county line. Are they anticipating that Grand County will continue the Book Cliffs highway and connect it to the planned energy infrastructure along I-70? Or are they content to truck everything to Salt Lake, already filled with industry’s toxic breath?

Seep Ridge Road Construction. Upgrading a dirt road to a four lane, high speed, trucking route.

Seep Ridge Road Construction. Upgrading a dirt road to a four lane, high speed, trucking route.

We hiked all over the drainage system just below the already huge tar sands “test pit.” The canyons are filled with elk trails, pinon, juniper, ponderosas, and Douglas Fir. Around all the seeps and springs we found groves of aspens and often abandon ranch structures. Water was flowing at some point in every drainage we checked.  US Oil Sands and the state engineer seem to agree that the PR Springs mine site has negligible ground water and thus water pollution cannot be a cause for concern. Getting baseline data for water quality in the area will be essential in this fight. A biologist accompanied us along the hike, counting and pointing out red tail hawks, flickers, chickadees, bluebirds, and starting an inventory of species.

Main Canyon, just below the tar sands test pit.

Main Canyon, just below the tar sands test pit.

We stumbled upon spots around the ridge that had been deforested already for various core samples and wells. In some places, the earth and vegetation had already been scraped off to expose the tar sands. They gray gritty cakes of tar and sand were hard in the cold spring air, very much like a crumbling parking lot buried just below the surface. P.R. Springs has some of the most accessible deposits.

Tar Sands Deposits at PR Springs

Tar Sands Deposits at PR Springs

Excitement and foreboding course through my veins. This fight is much bigger than stopping just one tar sands mine. It’s about also stopping oil shale, corporate manipulation of our public process, and the continued expansion of the extreme energy empire. We’re here, we’re everywhere, and we’re growing in strength. We believe a better way is possible and that the continued exploitation of these fossil fuels is destroying our ability to cope with the needed transition. Extreme energy extraction will no longer be tolerated. The costs are simply too high.

View of the drainage just below the test pit. If allowed to expand, US Oil sands would likely dump all of the "overburden" from mining into this canyon. Industry's term for this is "valley fill."

View of the drainage just below the test pit. If allowed to expand, US Oil sands would likely dump all of the “overburden” from mining into this canyon. Industry’s term for this is “valley fill.”

This tar sands mine was abandoned in 1983, unreclaimed. US Oil Sands has yet to pay their 1.6 million dollar reclamation bond and yet they are already deforesting and strip mining a test pit.

This tar sands mine was abandoned in 1983, unreclaimed. US Oil Sands has yet to pay their 1.6 million dollar reclamation bond and yet they are already deforesting and strip mining a different test pit.

On the Banks of the Green River where industry trucks come to fill up water and brine mix.

On the Banks of the Green River where industry trucks come to fill up water and brine mix.

Fracking Rig outside of Vernal

Fracking Rig outside of Vernal

The Tar Sands Triangle

Overlook in the "Tar Sands Triangle"Overlook in the “Tar Sands Triangle”

by Sarah S.

I just emerged from the windy, winding, wilderness that is referred to by industry as “the Tar Sands Triangle.” It’s a vast stretch of mesa tops bisected by steep, narrow canyon walls, only accessible by forty miles of washboard dirt roads after a barren stretch of highway. I was lucky enough to accompany a group of college students with the Wild Rockies Field Institute into the backcountry to give a lesson on unconventional fuels on the Colorado Plateau.

Historically this area was used by ranch families and was even a hangout for the notorious Wild Bunch when they were running from the law. Cattle, horses, pronghorn, and even wild burrows are scattered between the sand dunes, sage, and blackbrush. Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, mysterious Etta Place, Kid Curry, Elzy Lay, and the rest would herd stolen cattle up to these parts and corral them in tucked away pastures ringed with natural rock walls. They could see a posse coming from miles away because of the dust they’d kick up as they rode. In that time, the Wild Bunch would escape into the canyon maze and emerge 100s of miles away.  Recently this area was dubbed a “Region of Historical Significance,” which in the end will hopefully help protect it against the threat of tar sands mining.

Pronghorn in front of the Henry Mountains, the last explored mountain range in the lower 48.

Pronghorn in front of the Henry Mountains, the last explored mountain range in the lower 48.

The canyons cut steeply down, revealing layer after layer of ancient rock, exposing the past to our curious scrutiny. Navajo domes crown the canyon– peach, pink, ruddy. We followed a trail for a while that was hewn into this rock by ranchers or uranium prospectors. The kayenta layer emerged as we dropped. It’s composed of purplish slabs of fossilized mud from a shallow seashore gone by. Here one can sometimes find the detailed print of a dinosaur foot left on the ancient mud flats.

We hiked down to the canyon bottom where cottonwoods were just leafing out and smells of wet willow blew in spring gusts. It rained all day; there was lighting and thunder overhead. Hail came and went and then the sun shone in a blue sky right before it disappeared over the tall Wingate wall. It’s been dry this year, so the chilly moisture was welcome. As climate change progresses, it’s predicted that this area will become more arid with extremes in heat and drought.

Narrows in White Rim Sandstone. This is the layer that tar sands are found.

Narrows in White Rim Sandstone. This is the layer that tar sands are found.

The class was curious and engaged, they already knew about Alberta Tar Sands and they all believe in climate change. It was nice. Then we delved into details about oil shale and tar sands on the Colorado Plateau. Water use and industrialization of wild places were the main topics of discussion.  At some point one of the students stopped me, “Wait, the oil and gas industry doesn’t have to abide by the Safe Drinking Water Act?” No siree, thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, injection wells for fracking aren’t protected by this act.

It was good to be in that Desert. I hiked out the six miles alone the next day. I was reminded that I come from this place. I don’t own it, no one does, but it has shaped me none-the-less. It’s wild, untamed, inaccessible, un-ownable. It’s fierce, nurturing, resilient and fragile all at once. I am from the Colorado Plateau and if I don’t rise up to protect it, who will? As Edward Abbey nicely put it, “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” I will not let vast expanses of this wild desert be destroyed, the climate irreparably altered, and our communities bombarded with boom-town trouble for the prosperity of the oil empire. We can do better, and we will.

Rain on the Navajo slickrock.

Rain on the Navajo slickrock.

Wild Rockies Field Institute class hiking into the Dirty Devil River.

Wild Rockies Field Institute class hiking into the Dirty Devil River.

Moab Residents Rally In Support of Greater Canyonlands National Monument

Nearly 60 Moab locals rallied to show their support for the creation of a Greater Canyonlands National Monument on Friday, March 29th.

The event was organized to counter a nearby rally held by the Sagebrush Coalition, who oppose the protection of Greater Canyonlands.

Moab residents march in support of a Greater Canyonlands National Monument during Moab’s annual Easter Jeep Safari, Friday, March 29, 2013. Photo credit: Logan Hansen

The nearly 60 residents gathered at Rotary Park on Mill Creek Drive. Carrying homemade signs with slogans like “Locals for the Monument,” “Camping and Grilling, Not Mining and Drilling,” and “Jeeps? Sure. Tarsands? No!” the residents then marched along the sidewalk on Mill Creek Drive to the location of the Sagebrush rally, which was held on private property near Dave’s Corner Market, about four blocks away.

Approximately eight people were present at the anti-monument rally.

“We’re not here to disrupt their event. We’re here to make it clear there are many locals who support protecting Greater Canyonlands,” said Emily Stock, a Castle Valley native who helped organize the counter-rally.

Greater Canyonlands is facing increasing pressures from oil and gas drilling, potash mining, and tar sands strip mining. A monument designation would protect the region from such extractive industries while preserving recreational access.

Sage Brush Coalition Protest against the Greater Canyonlands Monument

“You’d still be able to jeep and recreate in a Greater Canyonlands National Monument,” Stock said, addressing one of the primary concerns voiced by opponents of monument protection. “Our main concern is unwanted energy development in these areas, not limiting the public’s access.”

The event was peaceful. The 60 marchers cheered as passing drivers honked their horns in a show of support. After a time, the marchers crossed the street and  marched the four blocks back to Rotary Park.

“Today’s rally was a tremendous success for those of us who grew up here and want to keep Greater Canyonlands the way it’s been — unspoiled,” said Stock.

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Front-line community stages stunning banner drop in Canyon Country

Today, activists from Grand County, Utah dropped a banner from a large boulder along the route of a popular annual half-marathon. This direct action is in concert with a” week of action against tar sands profiteers”, called for by Tar Sands Blockade.

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This banner was posted along the Half Marathon Race Route. Roughly 5,000 people ran by it, thought about it, then hopefully thought about it for another 5 miles while they ran through gorgeous canyon country. The road will open for public traffic by Saturday afternoon. The banner remains in place for now.

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“The proposed strip mining, processing, shipping, and refining of tarsands in Utah threatens the wild character of this landscape that we love. It would pollute our air, water, and further contribute to catastrophic climate change. I for one am not about to let one of the most destructive industrial processes on earth come to Grand County without a fight,” one activist said.

Come to a meeting, spread the word, hang a banner, plan a direct action.
Check out www.beforeitstarts.org to get involved.  Be our friends (before it starts and canyon country rising tide) on facecrack and they even have a twitter!

Using Tarsands produces 2-4 more times carbon dioxide than conventional oil.

The mining and processing of Tarsands requires as much or more energy as it produces in the end. This extra energy input comes from either fracked natural gas or nuclear power- both of which we also oppose.

Tar sands mining in Canada is the largest and most destructive industrial project in the history of our planet.  The U.S.A. could soon become another home for this kind of mining. The most immediate threat comes from U.S. Oil Sands, Inc, which plans to begin operations this year in an area just 60 miles from where the banner drop (pictured below) took place.  [Read the details about US Oil Sands' operation]

 

 

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