About two dozen demonstrators gathered outside the Bureau of Land Management Office at the Gateway to offer their own "People's Environmental Impact Statement" on tar sands. They object to a decision by the federal government to make more than 130,000 acres available for tar sands development in Utah. Right now, the only active tar sands project in Utah is the proposed U.S. Oil Sands mine at PR Springs in the Book Cliffs. That's actually on state land, and Henia Belalia of Peaceful Uprising isn't persuaded by their plan to use an organic solvent instead of water to extract hydrocarbons.
“A lot of what they'll be unleashing with these operations are toxins,” Belalia tells KUER. “Even the fact that they will be breaking down and breaking up particles means that any kind of toxin that's on their site will be solvable and will be a lot easier to move downstream.”
Cody Stewart, the energy advisor to Governor Gary Herbert, said what's contemplated in eastern Utah would not cause the same kind of environmental damage that's occurred where tar sands are mined in Canada.
“I've been out to this area,” Stewart says. “I've seen the area and also heard a good description of what they want to do and how they plan to do it, and I think it's a very balanced and responsible approach.”
That didn't keep the demonstrators from indulging in a little street theater with a square-headed black blob calling itself the Tar Sands Monster. The actor inside said tar sands want to be left in the ground.
Bureau of Land Management news release on western tar sands and oil shale development
Peaceful Uprising's People's Environmental Impact Statement