By Derrick Broze, Anti Media, August 14, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) On Monday, August 10, four land defenders helped shut down tar sands mines owned by U.S. Oil Sands at the Book Cliffs in Utah. The action was part of an effort to raise awareness of the coming U.S. Oil Sands tar sands mines and the recent toxic spill in the Animas River in Colorado.
The website Peaceful Uprising reports that four activists were arrested at Utah’s Book Cliffs after they suspended themselves from metal tripods in an attempt to block the company from clearing the site. Officers with the sheriff’s departments in Grand and Uintah counties removed the protesters using a cherry picker.
Peaceful Uprising told the Salt Lake Tribune that the attempt at new construction is “a stunning show of contempt for lawful public process.” The activists say the state regulators failed to delay the permit until after a plan for monitoring groundwater contamination was developed and approved. U.S. Oil Sands and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality say the mine site is far from any aquifer and does not pose a threat to groundwater.
U.S. Oil Sands is based in Calgary, Canada and currently in the middle of an $80 million construction phase to build equipment that will allow the company to clear more land for mining operations, which will help process tar sands into fuel. The land that U.S. Oil Sands is using for the tar sands has been used by the Ute people for generations.
Cameron Todd, CEO of U.S. Oil Sands, said the protest was a “minor disturbance” and accused the protesters of putting themselves in danger. He said he doubts that opponents of the Utah mine actually care about the environment. “We’re the environmentalists. We’re the people that are here looking for a sustainable future,” he told CBC. “There’s been a very small but very vocal group of anti-development activists that’s had various protests over the past few years and they occasionally trot out their banners and look for a media spectacle and try to make something happen and make a nuisance of themselves.”
U.S. Oil Sands is planning to extract oil from its mine with a biodegradable solvent made from citrus fruit. The technology means there’s no need for tailings ponds, the large wastewater pools that have been a major focal point of environmental campaigns against Alberta’s oil sands.
Todd said he doubts opponents of the Utah mine have the environment at heart.
Within days of the protest, the Financial Post reported that Canadian crude oil prices dropped to the lowest price in a decade. Land defenders with the Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Canyon
Country Rising Tide vow to maintain their opposition until the tar sands mines are shut down permanently.
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