Back in January 2008 the Traveler warned about a movement in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to allow tar sands development in Utah.
According to a post by writer RL Miller on the Daily Kos the other day, back in September a Canadian company, Earth Energy Resources, received an oil sands production permit from the state of Utah. "This is the first oil sands production permit to be granted in the United States and represents a very significant milestone for the Company and the US domestic oil sands and oil shale industry," the company announced in November.
Well, that permit is being appealed by both the Sierra Club and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. This Wednesday the groups will call on the the Utah Department of Natural Resources to block that development. The meeting runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1594 West North Temple in Salt Lake City.
What's the big deal? Developing tar sands is a dirty, and thirsty, business. Even the BLM acknowledged in its 1,400-page Oil Shale and Tar Sands Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that these energy projects "completely displace all other uses of the land."
According to the report, which the BLM was required to produce by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, full implementation of the plan could lead to air in the region being "contaminated with carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants, while air close to the site could be contaminated with benzene, toluene and formaldehyde. More than 100,000 acres of wilderness-quality land could be industrialized, construction of reservoirs would alter natural streamflow patterns, hydrocarbons and herbicides could cause 'chronic or acute toxicity' in wildlife and habitat for 20 threatened or endangered species could be lost."
That plan also called for the BLM to make more than 400,000 acres of public land available for development, including land located adjacent to or near Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Canyonlands National Park, Dinosaur, and Natural Bridges National Monument. More than 25,000 acres are adjacent to Canyonlands and Glen Canyon in the “Tar Sand Triangle.”
It will be interesting to see whether the groups' appeal is successful.