Category Archives: Press Release

From the Banks to the Bulldozers: Together and Everywhere We Rise Up For Climate Justice

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Utah Tar Sands Resistance Shows Solidarity with Flood Wall Street and the People’s Climate March

This past weekend, people from various parts of Eastern Utah who are organizing to stop tar sands and oilshale development in the region came together to demonstrate their solidarity with Flood Wall Street and the People’s Climate March in New York City. The group, consisting of Uintah Basin oilfield residents, Moab community members living downstream from the proposed tar sands mine, and a handful of other folks from Utah and Colorado, marched to the site of the first commercial tar sands mine in the US, located at PR Spring on the Tavaputs Plateau. As the international movement for climate justice continues to grow, and as hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to challenge the logic of unchecked industrial development and fossil fuels extraction, people on the front lines, like those in Eastern Utah, are strategizing, networking, and taking bold direct actions to defend their communities from the profit-driven belligerence of the oil and gas industry.

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National Environmental Groups Stand With 21 Arrested Utah Land Defenders

In July, twenty-one people were arrested while engaging in peaceful civil disobedience in protest of a controversial proposed tar sands mine in northeastern Utah, which would threaten local land and water, as well as contributing to the global climate crisis. National environmental organizations expressed their solidarity with the protesters. The protest was the culmination of a week long Climate Justice Summer Action Camp organized by students and young people from around the country (Utah included!).

“This could be the first large-scale tar sands strip mining in the Unites States, and this filthy industry threatens our air, water and wildlife,” said Valerie Love, No Tar Sands Campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity, who was one of the 21 arrested at the site.  “We staged our protest on behalf of the millions of people who will be affected by this dirty fossil fuel mining. Over 40 million people and many wildlife species depend on this watershed. We need to say no to tar sands mining.”

SONY DSCRainforest Action Network stands in solidarity with the Utah anti-tar sands protestors whose commitment to protecting our air, water and climate—at the expense of their own freedom—is inspiring,” said Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network. “Our movement is already working hard to prevent the Keystone XL from delivering tar sands oil across our borders; we can’t allow the practice itself to be imported to our cherished wild places. We applaud the local Utah campaigners for fighting to stop the first-ever tar sands mine in the United States.”

“Tar sands are the dirtiest fuel on the planet. By shining a spotlight on these dangerous projects, protestors in Utah are doing the world a service–they deserve our support, not jail time. If the government won’t act to keep tar sands in the ground, then the people will. The power of nonviolent direct action has helped block tar sands pipelines and mines from Nebraska to Maine to Alberta. This resistance is strategic, it’s effective, and it’s ultimately going to carry the day,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the brave people in Utah who are risking themselves to protect us all,” said Luísa Abbott Galvão, of Friends of the Earth. “We’ve seen from Canada that tar sands production is incompatible with environmental sustainability, land rights, and the public health.”

PR Spring Test pit on bottom with newly cleared area for mining above. Photo courtesy of Chris Baird

PR Spring Test pit on bottom with newly cleared area for mining above. Photo courtesy of Chris Baird

“Mining tar sands in Utah would be disastrous for local communities and the water, and would be a major setback for the country’s efforts to stop climate change,” said Kendall Mackey, National Tar Sands Organizer for Energy Action Coalition. “Youth activists across the country stand with those opposing tar sands mining in Utah and stand ready to use our political and financial power to stop it.”

“Tar sands is the dirtiest source of oil on the planet.  We’ve seen the destruction being caused by tar sands everywhere–from the strip mines in Canada to the ruptured pipelines that dump tar sands crude into American waterways and neighborhoods,” said Marion Klaus, a Sierra Club volunteer leader who lives in Utah. “The Sierra Club stands with citizens everywhere who are fighting dirty fossil fuels and getting to work creating the clean energy prosperity this country needs.”

“The Utah 21 are not alone.  These brave and principled nonviolent activists are only the most recent to take their turns on the front lines against extreme energy extraction and for a safe climate and clean energy future. Many have preceded them and more will surely follow.  Our movement is already winning as we have effectively limited tar sands production by blocking its export out of North America.  The oil industry and the Obama and Harper governments should expect more protests, marches, and civil disobedience until energy policy is brought in line with what climate science demands – anything less is climate denial which we, and activists around the country, will not tolerate” said Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International.

“Greenpeace stands in solidarity with the brave activists who have put their freedom on the line to prevent the construction of the first-ever US tar sands mine. We can’t hope to solve the climate crisis if we continue to extract and burn the dirtiest fuels on the planet. In the face of devastating droughts, floods, and fires, non-violent direct action is a necessary tool to confront injustices where governments and corporations have failed to act,” said Gabriel Wisniewski of Greenpeace.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT BY DONATING TO THE UTAH LAND DEFENDERS LEGAL SUPPORT.

 

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

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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).

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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

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]