May 152013

For Immediate Release: May 14, 2013
Contact: Kate Finneran, Before It Starts, 435-260-0662 or

Opposition Against Tar Sands Grows in Utah as US Oil Sands, Inc meets for Annual Shareholder Meeting in Calgary

Meme shared on social networks:

Meme shared on social networks:

Front Line and Downstream Communities Call for Protection of Colorado River, Vow to Stop Canadian Company’s Bid For Tar Sands Extraction

Calgary, Alberta~ An unprecedented coalition of Utahns delivered a powerful message to US Oil Sands, Inc. today as investors gathered for an annual and special meeting of shareholders at the Calgary Petroleum Club: “US Oil Sands: We Will Stop You…Before it Starts.” Investors received a group photo from the alliance, with the picturesque backdrop of Arches National Park and the Tavaputs Plateau, and a promise protect their community.

US Oil Sands (which changed its name last year from Earth Energy Resources) hopes to begin construction in 2013 on what would be the first tar sands mine in the United States, located in the Tavaputs Plateau region of Southeastern Utah. But a growing alliance of Utahns has pledged to stop the project before it starts. The company has galvanized Utah locals and downstream communities committed to the protection of Colorado and Green River waterways.

“We want current and potential investors of US Oil Sands to know they will meet resistance on the ground,” said Kate Finneran, local Moab mom and organizer with Before it, an organization committed to keeping Utah tar sands and oil shale free. “We will use every avenue available to us; legal, legislative, policy, organizing and even direct action to protect our communities and our future.”

As the Arid West braces for another dry, hot summer, growing concerns about water use and pollution from the project have also moved farmers, ranchers, hunters, anglers and others to join in saying ‘No thank you’ to the Canadian company and its tar sands mining plans.

“Tar Sands projects are simply short sighted gains at the expense of long-term habitat conservation. Some type of fossil fuel extraction can be done with minimal environmental impact but tar sands are not in that category. They destroy habitat that can never be restored to anything that resembles what was lost. It is a losing proposition,” said Jay Banta of Back Country Hunters & Anglers.

The company has also drawn fire from small business owners over impacts on air quality and ‘viewscapes’ in the nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, which attract over one million visitors a year to Moab and surrounding areas, fueling a thriving tourism economy. Ty Markham runs a small hospitality business near Capitol Reef, one of Utah’s spectacular red rock national parks.

“I know how the polluting process of extracting tar sands near ANY of our national parks will impact my business, along with all the other businesses here that exist due to the strong tourism and recreation we have in our part of the state,” Markham said. “When those blue skies, broad vistas and clear rivers and streams are no longer pristine, visitors to our area will decrease and our businesses will struggle. Then it won’t be long before we’re laying off employees and our local economies die. We’re not going to be fooled by the empty promises of boom-bust industries.”

The proposed tar sands operation has faced legal challenges by Living Rivers and Western Resource Advocates, and although the company was recently given the green light by the state of Utah, US Oil Sands may find it more difficult than expected to operate in the region, due to growing objections by locals. Some groups are organizing a camp in July to train local residents in civil disobedience and nonviolent direct action in anticipation of a summer of peaceful protests against US Oil Sands’ plans.

For the photo card sent from Utahns to US Oil Sands investors visit:

For more information:

 May 15, 2013  Posted by at 9:45 am Actions, Events 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 282013

Actions against tar sands profiteers are ramping up in the US. Last week, there were over 55 actions across the country. For more info visit our friends at

For Immediate Release

Click here to read the Press Release

March 26, 2013

Living Rivers & Colorado Riverkeeper

Before It Starts

John Weisheit – 435-259-1063; 435-260-2590;

Ashley Anderson – 801- 652-2971;

Investors Beware: Utah’s Tar Sand Deposits are Duds

MOAB, UT – The Record of Decision issued March 22nd by the Bureau of Land Management concerning the development of TAR SANDS in Utah states the following on page 40:

“[t]his resource is not, at present, a proven commercially viable energy source, and the BLM would like to obtain more information about environmental consequences associated with its development prior to committing to broad-scale commercial development.”

Activists opposing the development, processing, and refining of Utah’s TAR SANDS emphatically concur with this statement. It is well documented in the geologic literature that the majority of the deposits in Utah will require steam injection to liberate the bitumen (“tar”), in order for this viscous oil to be pumped to the surface for further refining (in-situ). Vast amounts of water will be required for this proposed industry and in the second driest state in the USA (preceded by Nevada).

“Aquifers will be depleted before there is any investment return and depletions of surface water from the Colorado River and its tributaries will be fiercely litigated because current demand outstrips the supply,” says John Weisheit, conservation director of Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper.

The Energy Return on Investment (EROI) for in-situ extraction is, under the best of circumstances, 2 to 1, according to respected energy analysts from the USA. Additionally, analysts from Canada place the EROI of steam injection at 1 to 1. For comparison, the EROI for the global oil and gas industry is 10 to 1.

However, there are tar sand deposits near the surface in some localities such as the PR Spring deposit in the Tavaputs Plateau of east-central Utah. It has been speculated that these deposits could be strip-mined and processed on site with just hot water and solvents to liberate the bitumen. Lack of water, none-the-less, is still the #1 heartache of industry speculators such as US Oil Sands, Inc., which is based in Calgary, Alberta. US Oil Sands has leased 30,000 acres from the state of Utah that it considers worthy of strip mining.

Investors must understand that this ore deposit near the surface is by no means a bonanza. The near surface deposits are lens-shaped deposits that have an average thickness of 27 feet and the deposits are interuppted and isolated by a series of incised canyons. The average depth of the overburden and intraburden (rocks with no economic value) is 124 feet. The general standard for economic return is a ratio of waste rock to ore is 2 to 1. In this case the ratio is an exorbitant 5 to 1.

“The strip-mining proposed by US Oil Sands will become the grave of their business. When they declare bankruptcy, the citizens of Utah will have the responsibility to reclaim their damage to the last remaining wild place of the contiguous USA,” says Ashley Anderson, co-founder of Before It Starts.

Potential investors should do at least these three things:

1) Ask USOS what it would cost the company to be shut down unexpectedly for a full day of operation, and write that amount down.

2) Take a moment and visit some search engines. Look up Keystone XL pipeline protests and mass arrests, which were organized in part by Utah activists. An ever-growing number of people are now blockading construction of the pipeline in multiple states. The CEO of Enbridge said “We are facing a very strong, almost revolutionary movement.”

3) Write down how many days you think USOS can be stopped by a continental movement and multiply those two numbers together.

Now ask yourself, is it worth it?”

Supplemental information:

Table One

Analyses of drill records available to the public within a two mile radius of US Oil Sands proposed strip mining project.

Depth below surface for this analysis is 150 feet (as per submitted application).

Standard: uneconomical if ratio of ore to waste is over 1 to 2

Reference: Horn, George H., 1967. Open File Report on PR Spring-Roan Cliffs, Grand County and Southern Uintah
Counties. USGS.

Table Two

Analyses of drill records available to the public on an 8-mile
transect along the Divide Ridge Road.

For more info on US tar sands, follow us on Facebook & Twitter

For photos of the first proposed tar sands site in the US, PR Spring, visit our Flickr

For updates for our friends an allies in Salt Lake, please visit & Utah Tar Sands Resistance


Supplemental information: See Tables One & Two below

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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 152013

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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.

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