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.

 

Summer Happenings

Permanent Protest Vigil at Tar Sands Mine

June-October

In May,  tar sands resisters new and old gathered in the Book Cliffs of so-called Eastern Utah, at PR Springs, site of one 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.

This permanent protest vigil provides interested people with an opportunity to tour an area slated for destruction and to participate in an experiential “field school” exploring topics such as direct action planning, consensus decision making, ecology, and public land management.

If you have a couple free days this summer, consider coming up for one of the themed campouts or contact us (canyoncountryrisingtide@gmail.com) to find out how to find the campers any time.

People at the  one of the sites of extraction for tar sands in Utah, PR Spring.

People at the one of the sites of extraction for tar sands in Utah, PR Spring.

Family Campout at PR Spring

June 21-22 Solstice Weekend

Join us for an intergenerational campout, bringing together families to protect future generations from the Utah tar sands.

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

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

 

Family Campout 2013 Photo Credit: Steve Liptay

Family Campout 2013 Photo Credit: Steve Liptay

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

The School & Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), the State of Utah, and US Oil Sands would have us believe that the tar sands & oil shale projects moving forward in Eastern Utah are all for the benefit of the children. For, they would say, isn’t all the money from the Trust Lands being leased for extreme fossil fuel development going towards education? No. SITLA’s annual contribution to education accounts for less than 2 percent of the state’s $3 billion-plus education budget. With every parcel of stolen land leased for development and extraction, and every acre sacrificed, the more the land is devastated, the water put at risk and polluted, and the air filled with dust and toxins, the future of our children, and of future generations, becomes more and more bleak.

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

DIRECTIONS
*SO THAT WE CAN BETTER ORGANIZE FOOD, CARPOOLING & CAMPING SITES, RSVP WITH US IF YOU PLAN ON ATTENDING (canyoncountryrisingtide@gmail.com). *****

Summer for Climate Justice Action Camp

July 15-22 on the Tavaputs Plateau

This July, students and other young people throughout the Western region of the U.S. will be converging to halt one of the first tar sands extraction operation in the U.S., located in Utah, and we want you to be one of them!  During the week, you will learn first-hand what’s at stake with tar sands development, cultivate a deeper analysis of existing power structures, and discover how you can be a catalyst in transitioning our energy system to a just and stable reality. The camp will culminate in direct action, and serve as a galvanizing platform for students and young people to build networks and leave equipped to take principled and concerted action on their campuses and in their communities.

Mass action shutting down preliminary construction at PR Spring in 2013. Photo Credit: Emily Wilson

Mass action shutting down preliminary construction at PR Spring in 2013. Photo Credit: Emily Wilson

Camp curriculum will be taught by experienced organizers from the Western region, primarily from grassroots organizations, Peaceful Uprising, Utah Tar Sands Resistance, and CanyonCountry RisingTide. The camp curriculum and structure will honor a climate justice framework, viewing the climate crisis as the most widespread exacerbation of already-existing systems of exploitation, emphasizing the need to dismantle such systems, and delving into ways to do that.

For more information, visit www.summerforclimatejustice.org. You must apply to attend.

Questions? Email summerforclimatejustice@gmail.com

If you’re interested in volunteering to help make this event possible please contact Sarah at Canyoncountryrisingtide@gmail.com. We will need folks interested in participating in kitchen duties, logistics, travel coordination, food shopping, and set up.

Please consider donating (money or time) to us to help make these events possible! Check out our calendar for other upcoming events.

Spring Update

Science CampoutP4111094

The April Science Campout was a resounding success. We found a new spring in the area, visited the ranch at the base of the strip mine, and were presented with the new study on ground water by a team of scientist from the University of Utah that will hopefully help in legislation to protect the ground water in that area for the Ranchers and river runners who rely on it.

Public Hearing on County’s Alternatives to the Bishop Process

Thanks to the hundreds of people who showed up and to those of you who spoke to encourage the County Council to adopt a stronger alternative for protection of this area. The council will be accepting letters on the subject until May 2nd.

If you haven’t already done so, please send a letter to:cartoonmap

Grand County Council
125 E Center Street
Moab, UT 84532

Also send a copy of your letter to:
Fred Ferguson
Legislative Director, Rep. Rob Bishop
123 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Consider mentioning including protection of Forest Service wilderness (our aquifer), excluding the Book Cliffs highway connecting the tar sands mine to I-70 and a potential refinery in Green River, increasing the amount of wilderness protected in all the alternatives, and taking out the Antiquities Act exemption. Thanks!

Comments accepted on
A new oil refinery in Green River

When: Until May 2nd
Utah Division of Air Quality

Recently conservation groups appealed the state of
Utah’s approval of Emery Refining’s planned facility near Green River because it risked significant air pollution and violations of environmental law.
In response to the appeal, Emery redesigned the facility, and on March 25, 2014, the state issued a new “Intent to Approve.” The state is now seeking public input in writing by May 2nd, and also conducting a public hearing in Green River on April 30th. Your voice is needed now!

Emery Refining’s redesign, Utah’s Division of Air Quality’s analysis, and the state’s quick Intent to Approve combine to
cause us concern:

– The state is allowing Emery to build their newly designed refinery under the old, flawed permit. In effect, they’re
allowing Emery to construct a facility before environmental reviews are complete, and before final permitting;

– The state has not completed models of the facility’s hazardous air pollution and its environmental and human health impact;

– Based on independent expert review, the state’s initial impact models underestimate the refinery’s greenhouse gas emissions.

This new plan comes as Grand County officials are promoting an oil transportation corridor through Sego Canyon that would connect Green River to the oil, oil shale and tar sands deposits atop the Book Cliffs. Increasingly, the refinery appears to be part of a bigger scheme to industrialize Utah’s wildlands for high-carbon fossil fuel extraction.

Please take a moment to write the state and express your views about their refinery plans. And if you’re local, please consider speaking at the public hearing too:

Remember that the state’s deadline for public comment is May 2,
2014. You can send a letter to:

Alan D. Humpherys, Manager
New Source Review Section
Utah Division of Air Quality
P.O. Box 144820 * Salt Lake City, UT 84114- 4820

**The information on the hearing is from Tim Wagner at the Sierra Club

The PR Spring Tar Sands mine as of April 2014.

The PR Spring Tar Sands mine as of April 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

beehiveclass

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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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

UTSR-road-8

Photo by Max Wilbert

Photo by Max Wilbert
Photo by Max Wilbert

PR Spring Family Campout

PR-Spring-FlyerWhen: June 21-23 (Friday-Sunday)

What: A Family and Friends campout up at the site of (potential) future tar sands extraction

Where: PR Spring, a BLM campground on the Tavaputs Plateau **

Why:  Get to know this remote and beautiful area, learn more about the issue, see in person the work they’re already moving forward with to turn our home into an industrial extraction zone.

*Community Kitchen with dinner and breakfast provided, bring your own lunch and snacks. Bring vegetables and skills to donate to the kitchen.

*Nature hikes, birding, species inventory, tar sands 101, storytelling, music, plotting

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

July 23-29 Direct Action Training Camp

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER AT CanyonCountryActionCamp.org

protectdefend

*July 24-29: A Direct action training camp in southern Utah (exact location TBA)

Other affiliated events:

*July 19-21: Downstream Community Leadership Training in Moab, Utah (sponsored by Before it Starts). Find out more at beforeitstarts.org

*July 18-20: Rising Tide National Gathering (location TBA). Find out more at http://www.risingtidenorthamerica.org

As the prospect of tar sandsoil shale, and other forms of extreme energy development threatens to wreak permanent havok on the health and wellbeing of Utah’s people and environment, grassroots organizations and community members from across the region are organizing to fight back.

Large energy corporations from out of state are flocking to Utah in an attempt to convert our public lands into a vast testing ground for extremely high risk extraction technologies like tar sands and oil shale mining. The Canadian petroleum corporation US Oil Sands, Inc is targeting the remote state lands of eastern Utah to be the first tar sands mining project in the USA. If companies like US Oil Sands can prove that these types of dirty extraction operations are economically viable in Utah, then more tar sands and oil shale projects will spring up across the region. Conventional political and regulatory avenues for public opposition have been nearly exhausted, and the proposed mine at PR Spring, north of Moab, has been given the green-light from the state to begin commercial operations, it is now clear that this project can only be stopped by organizing and taking direct action together as impacted communities.

Please join us late this July for a week of trainings, strategizing, and action to continue building the collective grassroots power we need to fight back against the corporate take-over of our public lands, our diminishing water resources, and our common wellbeing.

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