For Immediate Release
Utah Approves First Tar Sands Mine in Country
State’s Energy Future at Stake
SALT LAKE CITY - Today, the Governor's Energy Initiative
Task Force will hold a public hearing to gather input on Utah’s 10-year energy
plan. This hearing comes one day after the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining
(DOGM) gave final approval for a tar sands mine in Eastern Utah, the first tar
sands mine in the country.
“Approving tar sands one day, then asking for public input
on the state’s energy future the next is either dishonest or dysfunctional,”
said Ashley Anderson, coordinator for Peaceful Uprising, a local climate action
The PR Springs mine, to be operated by Canadian-based Earth
Energy Resources, would occupy 213 acres in Grand and Uintah Counties in
Eastern Utah. The site is within
the Colorado River watershed, which supports 30 million people across the
region. Earth Energy Resources
expects to produce 2,000 barrels of crude bitumen per day, 350 days per year
for 7 years.
“This project has no real value or contribution to society,”
said John Weisheit, Colorado Riverkeeper and Conservation Director of Living
Rivers. “The total amount of oil
produced by this mine over seven years of operation would cover just 7 hours of
American oil demand – a tiny blip on the radar. However, it will take millennia
to restore the watershed they are about to destroy.”
Tar sands, also called oil sands or heavy oil, produce one
of the dirtiest fuels on the planet.
On average, each barrel of tar sands oil generates three times the
greenhouse gases as conventional fuel, consumes or contaminates two to four
barrels of water, and exposes ground water to toxic pollutants such as arsenic,
lead, mercury, nickel and cyanide. DOGM refused to consider the climate impacts
of tar sands in the permitting process. Extraction of tar sands in Canada has
already devastated an area the size of Florida.
Although DOGM issued tentative approval of the mine in
September 2009, they failed to notify Grand County until March 2010. In response, Peaceful Uprising and
Living Rivers requested a hearing with DOGM held in July to review the
environmental impacts of the mine.
“No one is in the government is asking whether or not tar
sands development is good for Utah,” said Anderson. “Instead, DOGM is simply
rubber-stamping the project while the State pretends to care about renewable
energy development at these hearings.”
Despite approval, Earth Energy Resources must still apply
for one final permit from Grand County and raise up to $35 million dollars from
investors before it can begin construction of the mine.
Comments about Utah’s 10-year energy plan can be sent to email@example.com.
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Peaceful Uprising is a grassroots organization in Utah working to address energy and climate justice through empowering nonviolent action. For more information visit www.peacefuluprising.org/notarsands.