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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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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).

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“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.

 

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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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

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.

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

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