Utah Approves First U.S. Tar Sands Project
State officials in Utah have okayed the nation’s first project to extract oil from tar sands, despite concerns from environmentalists about possible pollution of groundwater sources.
The Utah Division of Water Quality’s governing board sided with Canada-based U.S. Oil Sands, which is behind the project, that the work poses little risk because of the absence of underground aquifers near the proposed 213-acre site in the Book Cliffs area between Vernal and Moab.
Two of the eleven board members voted against the plan, questioning whether the permit met the state law definition of groundwater.
Members of Utah Tar Sands Resistance, a local environmental group, vowed to keep fighting the project in Eastern Utah. Raphael Cordray, a member of the group, claimed state surveys reveal the existence of aquifers below the area where the mining will take place.
U.S. Oil Sands hope to begin strip mining for bitumen, which can be refined into oil, in early 2014 if it is able to finalize the permitting process in the next several weeks. It has already dug out a two-acre test pit. The company found water at a depth of 1,800 feet and will use it in the mining process.
To Learn More:
Utah Board OKs the Nation’s First Commercial Tar Sands Project (by Judy Fahys, Salt Lake Tribune)
Utah Oil Sands Project Can Proceed Without Pollution Permit, Water Monitoring (by David Hasemyer, InsideClimate News)
Tar Sands Oil Pipeline would Violate Bush-Era Pollution Law (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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