NPCA Keeping An Eye on Utah Tar Sands Developments

U.S. Bureau of Land Management efforts to spur development of "tar sands" in Utah near several national park units are being watched by the National Parks Conservation Association.

Tar and oil sands are a mixture of clay, water and heavy crude oil found in certain places in the world. The most famous area is in northern Alberta, Canada. It is estimated that the reserves in Utah alone hold 32 billion barrels of oil.

"While we have not had an opportunity to review the specific siting of the proposed leases, the impact of BLM planning at our national parks is profound," says David Nimkin, who heads NPCA's Southwest regional office. "So while I cannot comment on the specifics of the DEIS at this time, our position is clear and consistent. We will actively oppose carbon-based energy development and production in areas adjacent to our national parks that contribute to substantial air pollution.

"Clean air is one of the most intrinsic resource values for all national parks - especially in the Southwest - and energy development and production is the most pernicious contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gas emission," adds Mr. Nimkin. "Additionally, continued reliance on fossil fuels at a time when we are likely and hopefully confronting problems associated with climate change is poor public policy. We are strong advocates for a comprehensive energy policy that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and encourages renewable technologies and conservation. We will be reviewing these proposed tar sand development plans and offering our comments."

Back in March 2007 the NPCA joined the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Grand Canyon Trust in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the BLM from leasing expired oil and gas leases within Glen Canyon, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and two wilderness areas in the name of tar sands recovery.