Category Archives: Press Release

Seed Sowers Arrested on Country’s First Tar Sands Mine

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SUNDAY JUNE 19, PR SPRINGS, UT: Thirty people walked onto the country’s first tar sands mine and sowed seeds to regrow land destroyed by tar sands – a fossil fuel more polluting than coal and oil. With butterfly puppets, songs, and banners, protesters trespassed onto the mine site and took the remediation of the stripped land into their own hands with shovels, pick axes and seed balls.

Evidently displeased with the sowing of native grasses and flowers, law enforcement intervened to arrest 20 of the planters, who banded together and sang until arrest. The action was planned by the Tavaputs Action Council, a coalition of grass roots social justice groups of the Colorado Plateau, and came as the conclusion to a 3-day event dedicated to celebrating land and biodiversity. Over 100 people participated, camping on public land next to the tar sands mine and attending workshops, panels, and music shows. People came together to hear about indigenous resistance to fossil fuels and colonialism, and to imagine a more equitable future together.

Canadian mining company US Oil Sands has leased 32,005 acres of public lands for oil shale development. In the future, 830,000 acres of public land could be at risk of irreversible tar sands strip mining in the western United States. Tar sands requites large quantities of water for processing into crude oil, putting extra pressure on a water system already under threat of running dry.

Kate Savage, Tavaputs Action Council: “By taking action today, we are creating in the present the future we are dreaming of. This means trespassing against US Oil Sands and other fossil fuel companies that want to make our future unlivable.”

Raphael Cordray, Tavaputs Action Council: “We took action today to tell US Oil Sands that we are here to stay and will not be intimidated by oppressive law enforcement and corrupt companies. Tar sands spells disaster for people and planet, and today we said: not in our name.”

Kim, Nihigaal Bei Iina: “We must remember that if we do not fight we cannot win, we don’t even have a chance of winning. By planting seeds we have a chance of winning another round for mother earth, we still have more battles to fight within us. These seeds planted will harvest another generation of fighters and warriors.”

“The boom and bust failures of coal, tar sands, and oil shale show that we cannot rely on the fossil fuel industry to provide long-term jobs and a steady economy.  We are demanding a “just transition” away from subsidizing dirty energy and towards a stable and sustainable way of living,” says Moab resident and CCRT member Melissa Gracia.  “That is an enormous task and yet people all over the world are rising to the occasion.  We need policies and institutions to support a just transition and we are building the people power to make it happen.”
According to Will Munger, “All across the region people are facing a similar situation. Take for example the recent bankruptcy of Peabody Coal.  They must be held accountable for their destruction of indigenous land on Black Mesa and we must ensure that the CEO’s don’t bail with bonuses while workers and local communities suffer.  We must take the money generated by the fossil fuel industry to repair the land and water while supporting local communities’ transition away from a fossil fuel-dependent economy.”
The Tavaputs Action Council supporting the Reclamation Action includes Canyon Country Rising Tide, Peaceful Uprising, Utah Tar Sands Resistance, Climate Disobedience Center and Wasatch Rising Tide.

Media Contact : Melissa Graciosa, Canyon Country Rising Tide; Tel: 503-409-7710 email: ccrt@riseup.net

Secondary Contact: Natascha Deininger, Wasatch Rising Tide, Tavaputs Action Council; Tel: 435-414- 9299; Email: wasatchrisingtide@gmail.com

Website: http://www.canyoncountryrisingtide.org

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Arrests on the Tavaputs Plateau During a Nature Walk with Children

Click here to donate to support legal expenses of arrestees.

All donations will go directly to the legal fund of the Tavaputs Action Council and will be used to support legal expenses of those arrested at the Family Campout nature walk as well as potential legal expenses that may result from the upcoming reclamation action. Thank you for your support!

tar-sands-arrests1Update June 12th, 8AM:

All ten individuals were released from the Uintah County Jail at roughly 4:45AM this morning on bail.  They are tired but fine and the parents are eager to reunite with their children.

Update June 11th, 9:00 PM:

Ten people Have been taken to Vernal County jail on charges of Criminal Trespass, a class B Misdemeanor

 

June 11, 2016 3:45PM

Seepridge Road, Uintah County, UT – Ten participants of Utah Tar Sands Resistance’s

family camp out on the Tavaputs Plateau have been arrested after completing

biodiversity studies close to the country’s first tar sands mine. A number of children

and adults walked to the wooded area next to the Children’s Legacy Mine to count

plants and identify different species, returning to an area that several members of

the group had camped at freely in previous years. Upon returning to their vehicles

they were met by Ronald Barton, police officer salaried on the public buck to police

the area for fossil fuel companies. Mr. Barton proceeded to detain the group for

trespassing and even threatened parents with reckless child endangerment. He also

instructed a news reporter who had wanted to follow the group that she would be

arrested if she attempted to do so.

 

Canadian company US Oil Sands is hoping to extract tar sands – a fossil fuel even

more polluting than oil and coal – at the Children’s Legacy Mine, and leasing SITLA

land (which is public land). Protesters have been holding a vigil by the mine for

several years, and documenting the ongoing destruction to land and wildlife.

Shea Wickelson, who led the biodiversity lesson, is a science teacher in Salt Lake

City: “I have been camping here with my family for the past four years. Last year, we

took some biodiversity data with my son and others. This year we wanted to see

how the mining expansion has impacted the area and take new data. We were

surprised to see the area so razed because we had read that US Oil Sands was ending

development, but it looks like a significant expansion to us. I am disappointed to

find out that my family and I are no longer allowed to be on the public land that we

have been visiting for the past four years.”

 

Natascha Deininger of Wasatch Rising Tide: “It’s ironic that local law enforcement is

so concerned with protecting industry interests, when the land in question is

actually public, and was ultimately stolen from the first nations of this area. It is

outrageous that a science teacher is being detained for teaching kids about

biodiversity on public land, when US Oil Sands is destroying hopes of a livable

future.”

 

Raphael Cordray of Utah Tar Sands Resistance: “We have a responsibility to the

public to document and witness the damage to the area. We are investigating a

crime scene and making records of what is happening here, as the decision makers

and regulators are ignoring the real concerns about this project.”

 

For Media, Please call: Natascha Deininger (385) 414-9299

 

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More Disruptions at BLM Oil & Gas Lease Sale

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SALT LAKE CITY—Dozens of people disrupted another Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas lease sale in Salt Lake City. This action is on the heels of other large “Keep It in the Ground” protests and disruptions calling for an immediate end to all fossil fuel development on public land. As soon as the auction began, many members of the audience erupted into song. The police quickly told everyone that they would be asked to leave if they continued to sing. The audience continued, and the police started removing people by force.  A small group linked arms and sat down. Wave after wave of people continued the song in rounds. Eventually everyone singing was hauled out by police and the auction continued.

The BLM’s “climate auction,” as protesters dubbed it, allowed industry to bid on oil and gas leases for more than 6,000 acres of publicly owned land in Utah. Some of the protesters entered the auction venue and were removed by authorities.

Keep It in the Ground

Demonstrators are forcibly removed from today’s #KeepItintheGround rally in Salt Lake City. Photo by Valerie Love, Center for Biological Diversity. Photos are available for media use.

“In his 2016 State of the Union, President Obama spoke about fossil fuels, saying, ‘Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future.’ The future he is talking about is the future of my grandchildren, and their grandchildren and the grandchildren of all the species on this planet,” said Kathy Albury of Elders Rising. “The energy we invest in must ensure clean air, clean water and a stable climate. To do that, we have to quickly phase out fossil fuels. Keep it in the ground!”

“Global warming is getting scary fast. Every month since we called on President Obama to end federal leasing last September has been an all-time global temperature record-breaker,” said Tim Ream, climate and energy campaign director with WildEarth Guardians. “With his signature climate policy languishing in the federal courts till the next president, Obama needs to move boldly and immediately to stop leasing fossil fuels on public lands and waters.”

Federal coal, oil and gas leasing are responsible for a stunning one-quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. By ending new leasing on public lands and waters, the president could lock nearly one-half of all U.S. fossil fuels safely in the ground. The message to markets and to other nations from such an action would be unmistakable. Instead the president has leased millions of acres of public lands to dirty energy companies, with oil production on federal lands up 62 percent since he took office.

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“The climate movement is reaching a critical mass,” said Lauren Wood of Wasatch Rising Tide. “Scientists talk about ‘tipping points,’ well, this movement is at a tipping point. We are not going to stop, so the BLM must change.”

“The ‘Keep It in the Ground’ movement is growing stronger every day,” said Valerie Love of the Center for Biological Diversity. “President Obama needs to listen to the voices and permanently end federal fossil fuel auctions like this one.”

The rally is part of a rapidly growing national movement calling on President Obama to halt new federal fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters. Since November protested lease sales have been postponed in Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.

Groups participating in today’s rally include Elders Rising, Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN), WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, Wasatch Rising Tide, Canyon Country Rising Tide, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Fossil Free Natural History Museum of Utah, SLC350 and BreakFree2016.org.

Background
Some 67 million acres of U.S. public lands are already leased to dirty fossil fuel industries, an area 55 times larger than Grand Canyon National Park, and containing up to 43 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. Nearly one-quarter of all U.S. climate pollution already comes from burning fossil fuels from public lands. Remaining federal oil, gas, coal, oil shale and tar sands that have not been leased to industry represent half of all U.S. carbon pollution.

In September more than 400 organizations called on President Obama to end federal fossil fuel leasing. In November Senators Merkley (D-Ore.), Sanders (I-Vt.) and others introduced legislation to end new federal fossil fuel leases and cancel nonproducing federal fossil fuel leases. Last month the Obama administration placed a moratorium on federal coal leasing while the Department of the Interior studies its impacts on taxpayers and the planet. Since November 2015, in response to protests, the BLM has postponed oil and gas leasing auctions in Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.

Download the September “Keep It in the Ground” letter to President Obama.

Download Grounded: The President’s Power to Fight Climate Change, Protect Public Lands by Keeping Publicly Owned Fossil Fuels in the Ground (this report details the legal authorities with which a president can halt new federal fossil fuel leases).

Download The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels (this report quantifies the volume and potential greenhouse gas emissions of remaining federal fossil fuels).

Download The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions fact sheet.

Download Public Lands, Private Profits (this report details the corporations profiting from climate-destroying fossil fuel extraction on public lands).

#KeepitintheGround

“Keep it in the Ground” protest interrupts BLM in Denver

LAKEWOOD, CO. Colorado community, climate and fracking activists hold up signs as they try to disrupt a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction May 12, 2016 at the Holiday Inn in Lakewood. The groups plan to rally and engage in peaceful civil disobedience to demand that public lands be no longer drilled, mined, or fracked. The protest is part of a global week of action focused on citizen action to keep fossil fuels in the ground and promote clean renewable energy, and comes days after the Colorado Supreme Court denied local authority to regulate fracking. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post)

LAKEWOOD, CO. Colorado community, climate and fracking activists hold up signs as they try to disrupt a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction May 12, 2016 at the Holiday Inn in Lakewood. The groups plan to rally and engage in peaceful civil disobedience to demand that public lands be no longer drilled, mined, or fracked. The protest is part of a global week of action focused on citizen action to keep fossil fuels in the ground and promote clean renewable energy, and comes days after the Colorado Supreme Court denied local authority to regulate fracking. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post)

The next Federal BLM Lease Sale for Oil & Gas is in Salt Lake City on Tuesday morning. Show up, show our power.

May 12, 2016

URL for photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeace_usa/sets/72157667794546282

DENVER – Hundreds of community, climate, and fracking activists today protested a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oil and gas lease auction at the Holiday Inn in Lakewood, Colorado. Roughly 300 activists from Colorado and surrounding states marched to the BLM auction, carrying signs, banners, art, and singing chants. From there, a contingent of over 100 risked arrest by entering the hotel lobby and hallways, many of whom physically blocked the entrance to the auction room. The blockade and the crowd held the space for over two hours, delaying and disrupting the auction.

 IMG_20160512_132912.jpgThe protest was organized by a coalition of groups led by local Colorado activists. It was part of the larger “Keep it in the Ground” movement, which is calling on President Obama to halt new federal fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters, a move that could keep half of American fossil fuel reserves from being burned, and protect these resources for generations to come. Activists from all across the country attended today’s action, showing solidarity with local activists and drawing attention to a rising public lands movement in Western states that has been challenging BLM auctions for the last six months.

“Colorado and the public lands of the West are being treated as a sacrifice zone, with corporations profiting from the destruction of our communities, the landscape, and the people’s health,” said Remy, a Boulder-based artist and activist with First Seven Design Labs. “As an indigenous person, the language behind keep it in the ground has been passed down to me from my elders. It’s about respecting the land and the earth, and it’s about justice for people who are being denied it.”

Colorado’s public and private lands have been pockmarked by oil and gas wells in recent years. The state has also seen firsthand many of the devastating impacts of climate change, including massive flooding and extended, more intense fire seasons. The action comes just days after the Colorado Supreme Court denied community authority to regulate fracking.

“When our political systems fail us, direct action is one of the few tools we have left,” said Colorado activist and Greenpeace campaigner Diana Best. “People here are finished with industry and government making us sick, polluting our communities, and destroying the land we love. Today you can see that the resistance in Colorado is powerful and a key part of the escalating national fight.”

The coalition, made up of local groups including CREED, FrackFree Colorado, Colorado 350, Colorado Rising Tide, and many others, and supported by national groups including Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, and 350.org was brought together as part of the Break Free global month of action. Artwork was designed by First Seven Design Labs and the Radical Arts Healing Collective, and built out by local community members. The coalition is now turning its attention to Saturday the 14th, when hundreds of community members will converge in Thornton to call for an end to fracking development in communities and on private lands. They will be joined by journalist Bill McKibben.

 

Obama’s Interior Department Pushes Oil Shale Plan Threatening Massive Climate Pollution, Water Use

FROM CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
SALT LAKE CITY— The Bureau of Land Management announced this week that it is moving toward allowing dirty oil shale development that could be a double whammy for the environment, unleashing nearly a half a billion tons of greenhouse gases and consuming vast amounts Colorado River basin water. It would be the first commercial oil shale production facility in the United States.

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White River, Utah, near proposed oil shale mining.  Photo by Ray Bloxham, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

The Bureau said that on April 8 it will release a draft environmental impact statement for the “Enefit American Oil Utility Corridor Project.” It would allow Enefit, an Estonian company, to build water, oil, gas and electric transmission across federal public land in Utah to enable oil shale mining on state on private land. Enefit hopes to process up to 1.2 billion barrels of kerogen oil — one of world’s most carbon-polluting fuels — with estimated lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of up to 450 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, about the same as 100 coal-fired power plants emit in a year.

“President Obama was right when he said in his State of the Union that ‘we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources’,” said Ted Zukoski, an attorney at Earthjustice. “It’s time BLM got the memo and stopped wasting taxpayer money subsidizing companies that would foul our atmosphere and endanger our planet, and our future.”

“The Interior Department is working against President Obama’s climate goals here,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Enabling the development of one of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels is the opposite of climate leadership. The administration should abandon this project now.”

“We don’t need to take on this environmental disaster that comes with developing the dirtiest fuel on the planet — oil shale,” said Rob Dubuc, senior staff attorney at Western Resource Advocates. “Renewable energy innovations and improvements in energy efficiency make this fuel unnecessary to develop. BLM should not advance this project.”

The draft environmental impact study comes only months after the United States and countries around the world committed, at the Paris climate negotiations, to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Reaching that goal will require dramatic reductions in carbon pollution — the key driver of climate change — and leaving the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Enefit’s mining facility would expand development and use of one of the world’s highest carbon fuels.

“There is more energy in a similarly sized baked potato than in a chunk of oil shale,” said Steve Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “We know that burning oil shale in a giant oven can produce shale oil; the question that needs to be asked is whether proceeding with this type of project makes any sense in a carbon constrained 21st century. The unequivocal answer is no. The time has come to turn our backs on the carnival barker’s promise that oil shale will be answer to our nation’s energy needs.”

“It is true that Enefit has made the mining and production of oil shale work for the energy needs of Estonia. However, Estonia also produces more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than other European countries, including Russia,” said John Weisheit with Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper. “What Estonia has, that Utah does not, is ample water supplies to process that oil shale. Ironically, the similarity between the governments of Utah and Estonia is their subsidy of dirty energy projects with public money.”

The proposed facility will be located in the Uinta Basin, approximately 12 miles southeast of Bonanza in Uintah County, Utah, near the Green and White Rivers. The project is designed to develop oil shale mining and a shale oil production complex, at full build-out producing about 28 million tons of raw oil shale ore rock per day and 50,000 barrels per day of refinery-ready shale oil from the Green River Formation.

“Oil shale is a thirsty industry,” said Anne Mariah Tapp with the Grand Canyon Trust. “The Colorado River Basin is already looking at up to a 27 percent decrease in April to July flows due to climate impacts. At a rate of up to four barrels of water per barrel of oil, Enefit’s project poses an unacceptable threat to limited Colorado River Basin water supplies. Both in terms of carbon footprint and water demands, the West’s water future would be drastically compromised by this oil shale program.”

“The legacy of the Green River will live or die on the decisions we as a country make here and now,” said Lauren Wood with Green Riverkeeper. “The Green River watershed cannot survive as a vibrant source of life in a desert if the BLM continues to view the landscape it runs through as a source of death and climate devastation. It’s time to close this chapter of our shared history where we strayed into such extreme and dangerous forms of energy; that isn’t our legacy, it’s our nightmare.”

“This oil shale project would be another significant source of pollution in an area that just can’t take any more,” said Dr. Brian Moench with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “During the drilling boom of 2013 the air pollution in the Uinta Basin was literally off the charts, as much as would be expected from 100 million cars, eight times more cars than in all of Los Angeles. It would be unconscionable to allow anything that would make that even worse.”

“A century’s worth of failed efforts has demonstrated that trying to turn rocks into oil is a fool’s errand, but somehow Enefit expects a different result this time,” said Bobby McEnaney, a senior analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The last thing this administration should be considering is a proposal that amount to fossil fuel alchemy, particularly when cleaner energy sources are readily available.”

The Bureau of Land Management’s webpage for the project is here.

A Comical banner drop….

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On Thursday February 11th, a meeting of the Grand County Transportation Special District was interrupted by a comical banner hang depicting a handful of public money being flushed down a toilet for the Book Cliffs Highway.

Spokes person for Canyon Country Rising Tide, Cindy Lewis said, “Grand County residents have been pushed too far. We’ve been resisting this road since the early 90s with legitimate public process. The Six County Infrastructure Coalition is now attempting to ignore our County Council and make a charade of our public process, so we’ll make a charade of theirs.”

The banner was displayed at a public presentation about the Book Cliffs Transportation Corridor Study – a $619,000 endeavor sponsored by taxpayers.

The Six County Infrastructure Coalition (Carbon, Daggett, Duchense, Emery, San Juan, and Uintah counties) intends to use this study to request $5 million taxpayer dollars to develop an Environmental Impact Statement for the project. The highway would be used to move oil, gas, tar sands, and oil shale from the Uintah Basin south to I-70. The Grand County Council pulled out of the then Seven County Infrastructure Coalition earlier this year, largely due to opposition for the Book Cliffs Highway. The proposed transportation route, which is entirely in Grand County, is estimated to cost between $110-200 million to construct with annual maintenance costs of about $1.2 million.

“We should be investing our public money in community controlled alternative energy projects, not roads to support the boom and bust tar sands industry,” said Cindy Lewis.

Over 100 Disrupt BLM Oil and Gas Lease Sale

Keep It In The Ground protest in Salt Lake City 2/16/16

February 16, 2016
Salt Lake City, UT

As Part of BLM Fossil Fuel Auction Protest, Author Terry Tempest Williams Buys Parcels

Today, over one hundred people erupted into song and disrupted the Utah Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) oil and gas lease sale in Salt Lake City, Utah. The auction was then closed to the public as the entire audience was escorted outside.

Activist and author, Terry Tempest Williams, attended and purchased several parcels totaling 1,751 acres in Grand County, Utah through a company she formed called Tempest Exploration. One was an 800 acre parcel 14 miles from and within view of Arches National Park that was leased for $1.50 / acre / year.

The group of grassroots organizations, representing a broad-reaching alliance of community members, packed and overflowed the auction room. They rallied and marched outside, and then came into the auction, spontaneously singing songs as the parcels were auctioned off until they were forced to leave.

After Williams bought the parcels, she was asked by a BLM official if this was “a legitimate bid for energy development.”

“Yes,” she replied. “You can’t define what energy is for us. Our energy development is fueling a movement. Keep it in the ground.”

Today’s protest and Williams’ actions are yet another sign of the growing energy and momentum of the “Keep It In The Ground” movement calling on President Obama to define his climate legacy by stopping all new fossil fuel leases on public lands and oceans.

In recent months, local residents and activists in Utah and in states across the country have protested outside BLM fossil fuel auctions. Since November, in response to protests, the BLM has canceled oil and gas leasing auctions in Utah, Montana, and Washington, DC, and this strategy has already gained the attention of leaders in Congress, in the Obama Administration, and on the 2016 campaign trail.

“The protests of today’s auction are another sign that the days of un-resisted fossil fuel development are over,” said Tim DeChristopher, who was arrested and imprisoned for 21 months for disrupting a BLM auction in 2008. “The public is clearly against the leasing of fossil fuels on public lands, and they are charting a path for political leaders to follow.”

Local organizers comment on the day’s activities:

Vaughn Lovejoy, Elders Rising.
“I was truly awed to witness the spontaneous singing which filled the room temporally halting the auction. We were then told we must quit singing or we would have to leave the room. We chose to continue to sing as we were escorted out of the auction. As I listened I could not help but feel that I was listening to a song arising from the very heart of Mother Earth. A cosmic song of compassion and love. In that moment I simply wished that my grandchildren could be there to experience the magic that arises when people come together to serve our beautiful common home.”

Lauren Wood, Green Riverkeeper Affiliate, Living Rivers
“Today our local community flexed our power through and connected to a global resistance to fossil fuels. Like the rivers we protect, this movement will continue to connect our struggles until we are able to fully recognize how powerful people are compared to a destructive industry.”
Kaitlin Butler, Women’s Congress for Future Generations
“Today we witnessed a groundswell of solidarity from a broad spectrum of local organizers coming together to fight for a livable future. Today we also witnessed thousands of acres of land being sold to the oil and gas industry without the consent of the public. Sometimes we have to stop and name the sorrows, trace them to their root. The Women’s Congress for Future Generations calls on those fighting for a livable future to join us in visiting the land, to bear witness, to grieve. Our grief will serve as a compass for the hard, important work ahead to Keep It In The Ground”

Cindy Lewis of Wasatch Rising Tide.
“Today we saw people spontaneously seize power and take action together.  The BLM can expect more of this as long as they continue to jeopardize our future by auctioning off our health and climate stability.”

Jane Butter, Canyon Country Rising Tide
“This morning, my mom and I were fortunate enough to sit together in intergenerational solidarity at a BLM oil and gas lease auction in downtown SLC. We began to fill with tears as our public land was casually auctioned off at $2.00 an acre. In the packed auction room with us were a hundred others.  We were all there to say no to fossil fuels; to the blatant and continued ignorance of the pressing realities of climate change; and to destroying the futures of our children and grandchildren. Our grief and tears quickly turned to song, as the others joined us in disrupting the auction with our voices and our hearts. We will not sit silently by. We will continue to put our bodies and our voices in the way. Eventually we were escorted out of the auction by police for speaking our truth, for articulating our vision and dreams for the world.  But we’ll be back next time. We will be back every time. With more people and more songs, we will continue to fight for a just and sustainable world together. Our movement, our power, and our love will continue to grow until we see this all the way through.“

Images from today’s protest are available for media use here:
www.biologicaldiversity.org/resourcespace/?c=596&k=a731c122f4

Check out a video of the auction:

Keep It In The Ground protest in Salt Lake City 2/16/16

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‘Keep It in the Ground’ Victory: BLM Utah Halts Oil and Gas Lease Sale

Celebratory Rally in front of the BLM offices in Salt Lake City.

Celebratory Rally in front of the BLM offices in Salt Lake City.

November 17th, 2015
SALT LAKE CITY— Elders and climate activists are celebrating today as the Bureau of Land Management made a last-minute decision to halt an oil and gas lease sale owing to a “high level of public interest.”

Dozens of citizens were planning to protest the auction on Tuesday morning in Salt Lake City.  Instead, they will now celebrate the Bureau’s decision to postpone the auction of 73,000 acres of publicly owned oil and gas in Utah — which harbor an estimated 1.6 – 6.6 million tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. The planned protest had been led by elders calling on the BLM to act to prevent catastrophic climate change and to ensure a livable future for generations to come.

The victory is the latest from a rapidly growing national movement calling on President Obama to define his climate legacy by stopping new federal fossil fuel leases on public lands and oceans – a step that would keep up to 450 billion tons of carbon pollution from escaping into the atmosphere. Similar “Keep it in the Ground” protests were held in Colorado and Wyoming in recent weeks and more are planned for upcoming lease sales in Reno, Nev., and Washington, D.C.

A number of national and local groups are coming together to demand that fossil fuels stay in the ground, including ‘Elders Rising’ – a group of seniors concerned for their children and grandchildren in an age when catastrophic climate change is destroying the possibility of a livable future. Elders Rising is joined by national groups Rainforest Action Network, the Center for Biological Development, the Women’s Congress for Future Generations, Canyon Country Rising Tide, and WildEarth Guardians in calling for inter-generational justice and an end to fossil fuel development.

Quotes

Kathy Albury, Elders Rising

“It has been said that when the elders rise up, it is a real crisis.  Well, here in Salt Lake City the elders only needed to talk about rising to protest the leasing of our public lands to fossil fuel companies, and thousands of acres have been saved from destruction. We are grateful for the postponement of this auction and are making plans to be at the rescheduled auction.  We will be bidding for the preservation of our wild areas to slow the progress of climate change and provide a livable future for our children and grandchildren.”

Lauren Wood, Canyon Country Rising Tide

“The BLM’s cancellation of the lease sale proves the strength of our movement. The BLM is learning that the people of Utah won’t allow our public lands to be sold off to the fossil fuel industry. We’ve seen the destruction they cause first-hand, and our movement will keep growing until we see a just transition from fossil fuels for all of Utah’s communities, urban and rural.”

Kaitlin Butler, Women’s Congress for Future Generations

“Community groups are standing up and withdrawing their consent to a toxic future. A powerful ethic is (re)emerging based not only on the right to a healthy environment, but also on the responsibility to act on behalf of the planet and future generations who are inheriting our debts. Currently, government protects private property and financial capital, instead of protecting the commons — the air, land, water, cultural heritage – the things we all share.”

Valerie Love, Center for Biological Diversity

“The BLM knows the public is watching and that they don’t want our lands and our climate auctioned off to the highest bidder,” said Valerie Love with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We forced the BLM to stop this lease sale, and we won’t rest until all new fossil fuel lease sales on America’s public lands are ended.”

Ruth Breech, Rainforest Action Network:

“Thanks to the people powered resistance, BLM is backing off and reassessing the corporate giveaway of our public lands. It is going to be community leaders stepping up in Utah and all over the country that will help end the fossil fuel leasing of America’s most precious resources. A delay on this lease sale in Utah means less public lands doomed to industrialization and a glimmer of hope to break the corporate stronghold on our future.”
Tim Ream, WildEarth Guardians

“The decision by the Obama Administration to cancel today’s Utah oil and gas lease sale is a possible turning point. Earlier this year the Utah BLM office was denying that climate change was even happening. Today, they heard the huge uproar of people across the U.S. and responded in a way we can all be proud of. If we all push hard enough this next year, the end of federal coal, oil, and gas leasing might be just around the corner.”

Background

The American public owns nearly 650 million acres of federal public land and more than 1.7 billion acres of Outer Continental Shelf — and the fossil fuels beneath them. This includes federal public lands like national parks, national forests and wildlife refuges that make up about a third of the U.S. land area — and oceans like Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard. These places and fossil fuels are held in trust for the public by the federal government; federal fossil fuel leasing is administered by the Department of the Interior.

Over the past decade, the combustion of federal fossil fuels has resulted in nearly a quarter of all U.S. energy-related emissions. An August report by EcoShift consulting, commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, found that remaining federal oil, gas, coal, oil shale and tar sands that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. As of earlier this year, 67 million acres of federal fossil fuel were already leased to industry — an area more than 55 times larger than Grand Canyon National Park containing up to 43 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution.

More than 400 organizations and leaders in September called on President Obama to end federal fossil fuel leasing. They included: Bill McKibben, Winona LaDuke, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Dr. Noam Chomsky, Dr. Michael Mann, Tim DeChristopher, Dr. Stuart Pimm, Dr. Michael Soule, United Auto Workers Union, Unitarian Universalist Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Protect Our Winters, 350.org, the Center for Biological Diversity, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, REDOIL, Sierra Club, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Waterkeeper Alliance, WildEarth Guardians and hundreds of others.

Earlier this month Senators Merkley (D-Ore.), Sanders (D-Vt.) and others introduced legislation to end new federal fossil fuel leases and cancel non-producing federal fossil fuel leases. Days later President Obama cancelled the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, saying “Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”

Oil Shale Conference Attendees get Rude Awakening to the End of Fossil Fuels

October 5th, 2015

Blazing fire barrels and singing disruptions by Canyon Country Rising Tide (CCRT) and Utah Tar Sands Resistance (USTR) welcomed attendees to the 35th annual Oil Shale Symposium this morning, sending a clear message that extreme energy development is unwanted, unsustainable, and driving climate chaos.

CCRT activists, looking the part of oil shale developers, snuck into proceedings and interrupted plenary speaker Laura Nelson, energy advisor to governor Herbert and former Vice President of Red Leaf Resources. Disruptors pointing to the revolving door between industry and government and stated that oil shale development spells game over for a safe climate for all.

USTR members gathered around a fire barrel and symbolically burned money and diplomas, signaling that investment in oil shale and tar sands is not only wasted money, but also offers no certain job prospects in a turbulent extreme energy market. Oil shale and tar sands are dirty fossil fuels that strip the land beyond recognition. These fuels are extreme polluters in that they 1) Perpetuate climate change because they require massive amounts of energy to produce, 2) Require tremendous amounts of water, 3) Strip mine vast areas of land whose ecosystems will not return for millennia, and 4) Massively impact the public health of nearby communities via air and water contamination. The State of Utah subsidizes extreme fossil fuels via projects such as the $3-million-per-mile Seep Ridge Road, which leads to tar sands and oil shale strip mines in the Book Cliffs and received over $54million in government subsidies. Business-people turned government employees such as plenary speaker Laura Nelson exemplify the scandalous revolving door that exists between oil and government.

UTSR campaigner Raphael Cordray says: “Oil shale development is dirty, risky, and needs to be ended immediately if we want to see a livable future free of catastrophic climate change. Companies like Red Leaf are playing dice with the climate and investor money.” CCRT campaigner Bradley DeHerrera says: “The shameless revolving door between industry and government is drowning out the voices of ordinary people. Today, we took the mic from industry-rep turned government advisor Laura Nelson to say that we do not want oil shale and other extreme fossil fuels in Utah, or anywhere else.”

Fueling Climate Chaos: Government Board Pours Millions into Industry Coffers

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October 1st, 2015

Salt Lake City, UT: Today, Community Impact Board (CIB) members were greeted by banners and signs from climate justice group Canyon Country Rising Tide (CCRT), who was present at this month’s meeting to protest the flagrant use of public money for private companies that are fueling climate change.

The CIB, who claims its role is to alleviate communities impacted by fossil fuel development, allocated $53 million for the construction of a coal export terminal in Oakland, CA in April, in a brazen move to funnel public money into industry coffers. The Board is set to strike again – this time funnelling another $1.35 million for a power line project from Green River into an extraction zone scarred with drilling rigs and mines. While the Board has hitherto been shrouded in bureaucratic anonymity, these recent misallocations of royalties intended for communities has put a magnifying glass onto the CIB and their dirty-secrets.

Dirty, above all, is the right word for the type of development the CIB has fostered: the export terminal in Oakland stands to revitalize the coal industry that is pushing the world further towards climate chaos, while CIB-funded projects such as Seep Ridge Road ($54 million in CIB loans and grants) have catalysed the expansion of extreme fossil fuels oil shale and tar sands in Utah. CCRT asserts that with the increasing economic instability of coal and the looming realities of climate change, the State of Utah needs a serious overhaul of how public money is allocated.

CCRT campaigner Kate Savage asks: “Why are we continuing to prop up a dying industry causing some of the biggest problems we face, when the state could be using these funds to transition our communities towards a renewable energy future? What rural communities in Utah need are secure, healthy and abundant jobs they can count on, not pie-in-the-sky export-terminals.”

CCRT campaigner Sarah Stock says: “There is a revolving door between the CIB and industry, and present and former board members such as Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee and Transportation Commissioner Jeff Holt stand to profit greatly while the people they represent lose out. It’s time to put people before profits, and start thinking about what will be beneficial for Utah in the long run.”

Ends