Jul 032013

**UPDATE: as of July 8, HUNDREDS of people from 38 states (and counting) have answered the call for solidarity. Can you help us make it 50?**

Army Corps: No Rubber Stamps for Tar Sands!

This summer, a company called Arrakis plans to mine for tar sands in Logan County Kentucky. They are waiting for the Army Corps to issue them the proper permits to go ahead.

Tell the Army Corps that we don’t want tar sands destruction in the US!

Fill out your info HERE to send the following suggested letter:

To the Regulatory Office of the Army Corps of Engineers,

I’m writing today because I have learned about plans for tar sands mining in Logan County, Kentucky. If this goes through, this project will become one of the first in the USA. 

In a state permanently damaged by mountaintop removal coal mining, Logan County and Kentucky as whole will not stand to be “next in line” for another destructive fossil fuel extraction industry. Tar sands mining has become an international catastrophe, making headlines about water, air, and health impacts every single day of the news cycle. Americans do not want to see this kind of mining take hold in the USA.

I am writing to ask you to REJECT Arrakis’ application for a 404 Stream and Wetland Fill Permit. Please protect the citizens of Logan County and those downstream.



Click here to add your name!



 July 3, 2013  Posted by at 10:14 am ACTION ALERT, Impending US Tar Sands operations Tagged with: ,
Jul 032013

The event was a great success. Read the full report here! 

Downstream Community Leadership Training July 20th – 21st Moab, UT downstream activist flat(All events are free to the public)
Scroll down for program of the Training.

 Sign up now! (click to register for the trainings)


This training is designed for Southeastern Utahns and downstream Colorado River users who will be directly affected by oil & gas exploration upstream.

In partnership with Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice, we’ll be training Southeastern Utahns, downstream Colorado River tribes, and other downstream users (AZ, NV, CA, & Mexico) for non-violent direct action, civil disobedience, and creative communication. Issue focus on local tar sands, oil shale, the proposed Green River Nuclear Power plant, and indigenous fights downstream.

July 18, Speaking event at the High School.

July 20,21, Workshops (see details below)

THURSDAY, July 18: Grand County High School Auditorium, 7 PM

You can donate to reserve your tickets – but the event is free to all.

Speakers and panelists (so far) include

  •  Bill McKibben, co-founder of and author of the first novel for a general audience about climate change, The End of Nature)
  • David Harper, Traditional Spokesperson for the Mohave Elders of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.
  • John Weisheit, Conservation Director for Living Rivers
    Mr. Weisheit has a long history of advocacy for rivers in the Southwest, both from a natural history perspective and as a leader in the outdoor industry. He serves on the boards of Utah Guides and Outfitters, Colorado Plateau River Guides, Headwaters Institute and the Sierra Club Glen Canyon Group. With two co-authors, John has written a book called Cataract Canyon: A Human and Environmental History of the Rivers in Canyonlands. The Waterkeeper Alliance designated John as your Colorado Riverkeeper in October of 2002.
  • Bradley Angel, Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice
  • Kate Finneran, co-founder of Before it Starts and new mother living in Moab, UT. Kate has extensive experience fighting destructive mining projects, and recently served as National Field Director for Appalachian Voices.


Saturday, Sunday, July 20,21 (free – BREAKFAST & LUNCH provided)

Saturday 9AM – 5 PM at the MARC

Sunday, 9AM – 12 Swanny City Park  | 1pm – 5 pm at the MARC

Participate in workshops and trainings on nonviolent direct action, creative communication, local issues briefings and more!

Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E 100 N. Moab, UT
[Precise daily workshop and training schedule coming soon]

Sign up now!

 July 3, 2013  Posted by at 9:44 am Actions, Events Tagged with: , ,
Jun 252013

“Invest in our dirty fuels!” – U.S. Oil Sands, Inc.

“Divest in dirty fuels!” – President Barack Obama

“D’oh.” – U.S. Oil Sands, Inc.

obama speeching

President Barack Obama gave an historic speech on climate today, and at one point encouraged people all over the world to invest in clean, renewable technologies–and to divest in dirty energy projects.

This must have come as a devastating setback for executives at U.S. Oil Sands, Inc, a Canadian firm trying desperately to lure enough private investment to begin mining tar sands in Utah. It would be the first such mine in the United States. The company has already pushed its start date for production back several times.

If tar sands and oil shale mining in the USA takes off, it would become the largest source of atmospheric carbon on the continent. That’s right: they’re bigger than the Canadian tar sands reserves.

POTUS made no mention whatsoever of unconventional fuels like oil shale and tar sands. He certainly could have, given the “all-of-the-above” jargon that he’s been sticking with for years. He could easily have said, “Here’s what we do: we develop our current energy sources, even unconventional ones like the tar sands and the oil shale. We ramp up fracking and natural gas development, and we use that energy to transition to a cleaner economy.” Somewhere along the way, that first part got chopped off, no doubt to the chagrin of tar sands and oil shale lobbyists. And while this tragically leaves fracking at the center of his approach, the absence of support for unconventional fuels development may finally “put to rest” any lingering hope U.S. Oil Sands, Inc. and fellow oil shale start-ups may have for ever turning a profit.



 June 25, 2013  Posted by at 1:45 pm Impending US Tar Sands operations, Inspirational Tagged with: , ,
Apr 062013

About |

Day One!

The Roadshow kicked off with a trip down south to the Cedar City Idle No More Rally. We shared our story of building resistance to the Utah tar sands and heard stories from other struggles in the region. Big shout out the the brave Navajo folks fighting for their sacred lands in the Grand Canyon’s East Rim. Check out their story at

More to Come!


 April 6, 2013  Posted by at 7:18 pm Rodshow Tagged with: , , ,
Apr 032013

The deep darkness of a cloudy desert night in Canyon Country provided a dramatic backdrop on Tuesday when activists from Occupy Moab, Before it Starts and the Moab Light Brigade set up letters spelling NO TAR SANDS on the Colorado River bridge.  From the river’s edge, it was as if there were two signs; the blue letters were silently reflected on the surface of the gently rippling water.

Local activists describe the Light Brigade action on the pedestrian bridge as they await a jetboat tour to pass underneath.

Local activists describe the Light Brigade action on the pedestrian bridge as they await a jetboat tour to pass underneath.

Every night around 8 pm, the serenity of the place is interrupted as a jetboat, accompanied by a slow-moving spotlight truck on the river road, passes under the bridge. Tourists had a chance to see something that wasn’t normally part of the tour.

Me: “Do you think [U.S. Oil Sands] is actually going to start mining tar sands?”

Max: “No. Ne’re gonna beat em!”

lightbroigade bad

From the river’s edge. (My occupywallstreet-worn cameraphone did not do it justice)



 April 3, 2013  Posted by at 12:07 pm Actions, Art projects Tagged with: , , ,
Apr 012013

Click here to make a secure grassroots donation on idiegogo — get the Roadshow on it’s way!

Will talks about the campaign. Click to view the video and learn more.

Will talks about the campaign. Click to view the video and learn more.

The Utah Tar Sands Roadshow is a listening project and educational presentation about the impact of tar sands extraction on people, water, and the land.  Tar sands development is one of the most destructive industries on earth–and a Canadian company is bringing it to Utah unless we rise up to stop it before it starts.

Tar sands are geological deposits containing bitumen. In order recover oil, bitumen must be strip-mined, pulverized, chemically separated, and then extensively refined. This process requires enormous amounts of energy input and requires 1.5 – 3 barrels of water for every barrel of oil created. Utah is the second most arid state in the nation and tar sands extraction would tap already stressed watersheds.  The proposed mine lies in the Colorado River watershed, which 30 million people downstream rely on for agriculture and drinking water.

Tar sands mining also requires extensive refinery expansions in Salt Lake City, which will add to the already record level air pollution along the Wasatch Front.
An extractive project of this scale will irreversibly impact the remote and pristine Tavaputs Plateau in Eastern Utah.  Some claim there are 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil contained in this large formation. This would mean disaster for the climate as tar sands extraction releases roughly three times more greenhouse gases per barrel than conventional oil.

The Utah Tar Sands Roadshow will journey around the region weaving together stories of resistance and resilience in the face of tar sands and other forms of extreme energy extraction. Our collection of interviews and conversations will be constantly updated on our website and compiled into a production to help educate people on the impacts of tar sands mining in the United States and the world.

Help make the Roadshow a success! 

 April 1, 2013  Posted by at 10:04 am ACTION ALERT, Events, Resources Tagged with: , , ,
Mar 292013

Its mountainous skyline graces a zillion breathtaking photos. Its jagged blue-green pine-covered peaks rise out of sandy-colored cliffs to complete the rainbow of color that the canyon country is so famous for,  but it never gets the credit. Now, there are plans to strip-mine it for tar sands and oil shale.

The Tavaputs Plateau as sen from the windows section of Arches National Park. The smooth sandstone of the Delicate Arch area can be seen.

The Tavaputs Plateau as seen from the windows section of Arches National Park. The smooth sandstone of the Delicate Arch area is near the bottom.

So let’s make it right. Let’s celebrate the Tavaputs Plateau. Let’s point it out!


~ A public collaboration ~

It’s simple: get your photos to us and we’ll aggregate them into a Flickr Set and Facebook album, so anyone can appreciate them.

If you’ve ever taken photos in the red rock country of Southeastern Utah or the western slope of Colorado, you probably already have some gems! Plus, it’s kind of a fun game of hide-and-seek to search your image files…


Make sure that the Tavaputs Plateau is in the picture. (Examples.) It can comprise all or part of the skyline. The photo should (but doesn’t necessarily need to) convey that it was taken somewhere in red rock canyon country. For an especially poignant image, try to include a famous or recognizable landmark (like Balanced Rock in Arches National Park or Dead Horse Point in Canyonlands National Park, or even a road sign everyone knows, for example.)

To add (submit) your photos, either

Upload them to Flickr with the tag #TavaputsCountry and we’ll find them and add them to the set and Facebook. Make sure you create a caption. Here’s our Flickr set so far


Email the photo as an attachment to The caption will be whatever you put in the subject line.


Post them to our Facebook Wall. If they meet the criteria, we’ll add them to the album. Here we are on Facebook. 


Upload them to Instagram and tag them #TavaputsCountry. We’ll find them. And add them to the slideshow below.


Tweet them with the #TavaputsCountry hashtag. We’d love it if you included a  link to the slideshow or this page.

Your photos remain your property and you retain the rights. We won’t sell them. Don’t even know how.  We won’t let anyone alse sell them either. But by submitting, you are allowing us to add them to the set and to post to Facebook and Twitter.


Questions? email admin@beforeitstarts.


~Ashley A from the BiS team in Moab. PS: I took the first coulpe to get us started.



 March 29, 2013  Posted by at 2:23 pm Art projects, Inspirational Tagged with: , , , ,
Mar 162013

Today, activists from Grand County, Utah dropped a banner from a large boulder along the route of a popular annual half-marathon that read:  ”TAR SANDS ARE COMING / UNLESS WE STOP IT / BEFORE IT STARTS.ORG”

This direct action is in concert with a” week of action against tar sands profiteers”, called for by Tar Sands Blockade.

Detail of banner dropped off a huge rock along the route of  an annual half-marathon

Detail of banner dropped off a huge rock along the route of an annual half-marathon


Over 5000 runners will have seen the banner by the time of this posting. The road will open for public traffic by Saturday afternoon. The banner remains in place for now.

The drop was conceived of and carried out by activists from Canyon Country Rising Tide, Before it Starts, and individuals who came together during a series of events in Moab, Utah–including a conversation with Canadian Indigenous Elder Francois Paulette and a teach-in / strategy discussion–which had been planned and hosted by Before It Starts.

Tar sands mining in Canada is the largest and most destructive industrial project in the history of our planet.  The U.S.A. could soon become another home for this kind of mining. The most immediate threat comes from U.S. Oil Sands, Inc, which plans to begin operations this year in an area just 60 miles from where the banner drop (pictured below) took place.  [Read the details about US Oil Sands' operation]

Hundreds of marathon-goers pass a banner alerting them to the threat of tar sands mining in the area they enjoy.

Hundreds of marathon-goers pass a banner alerting them to the threat of tar sands mining in the area they enjoy.

“The proposed strip mining, processing, shipping, and refining of tar sands in Utah threatens the wild character of this landscape that we love. It would pollute our air, water, and further contribute to catastrophic climate change. I for one am not about to let one of the most destructive industrial processes on earth come to Grand County without a fight,” said one activist.

Come to a meeting, spread the word, hang a banner, plan a direct action.
Check out to get involved. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, as well.

Using Tarsands produces 2-4 more times carbon dioxide than conventional oil.

The mining and processing of Tarsands requires as much or more energy as it produces in the end. This extra energy input comes from either fracked natural gas or nuclear power- both of which we also oppose.

 March 16, 2013  Posted by at 1:47 pm Actions, Impending US Tar Sands operations Tagged with: , ,
Jan 232013

How Colorado River water is divided up between the states and Mexico is established on a piece of paper called The Colorado River Compact. Most people refer to it as “The Law of the River.”

The river is divided into two basins: upper and lower. The division is located at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona.

1) The upper basin gets 7.5 million acre feet (MAF)
2) The lower basin gets 7.5 MAF
3) Mexico gets 1.5 MAF.

The total promise on paper to these “users” is 16.5 MAF.

The average annual yield (based on a 106-year instrument record) for the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry is 15.0 MAF.

In the last 50 years the yield has dropped to 14.5 MAF

Right now there is a 2.5 million MAF deficit between demand and supply.

In 2050 the annual yield will be 13.7 MAF.

So the water Utah has is based on an illusionary piece of paper.

Until the paper is changed to reflect reality, Utah has the right to develop water for tar sands and whatever else.

Only the seven states can challenge this in court. Only the US Supreme Court can hear the case. (Interstate Commerce Law).

If a state took this matter to the Supreme Court, the court would say: “Look, you seven idiots. Obviously you don’t understand simple arithmetic very well. The order of the court is to lower your demand immediately. Now get the [bleep] out of my courtroom. (It would actually take 10-years of discovery to get to a final ruling.)

The case will never get to the Supreme Court. The states are not foolish. Well, yes they are, but you know what I mean.

So revising the piece of paper will not happen anytime soon. Congress could make that happen, but a national crisis would have to happen first to justify whatever action they might take.

Thus Utah has lot’s of water, even though it is illusionary water.

Remember, the United States of America is not a country, it’s a business.

 January 23, 2013  Posted by at 12:48 pm Impending US Tar Sands operations, Resources Tagged with: , ,
Jan 162013

Contents (Jump to in page)


Oil shale and tar sands remains a speculative industry in the arid lands of the Colorado Plateau. A general lack of water is why the industry will never be viable. Even if alternative chemical washes are used to separate bitumen from sand, for example, it still requires 1.5 to 2 barrels of water to refine a single barrel of oil. What this extraction will accomplish is physical damage to the Colorado River watershed, which supplies culinary water to nearly 30 million people. It will also create more CO2 in the atmosphere, which is the #1 killer of the Rocky Mountain snowpack, which provides 85% of the Colorado River’s total annual water supply. Our watershed needs investors to create a reliable energy supply that will heal the water supply of the Colorado River, not destroy it.

Continue reading »

 January 16, 2013  Posted by at 12:16 am Resources Tagged with: , ,