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The Tar Sands oil production facility in Alberta Canada is an ongoing environmental disaster.

Here are some facts about this inefficient oil production process:

Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.

At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing.

Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes.

The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world. The ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.

Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.

Conventional drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas only perpetuates the problem. We will still run out of oil eventually.

And the argument that oil production keeps the economy going is a weak one. Shifting the focus to oil alternatives will require just as much R&D and ongoing commerce.

Fixing the environmental problems we've created will require a huge amount of innovative technology, and humans like to solve problems.

Drilling a hole in the ground to find crude oil gushing up did not require genius. Time to move on.

Stop US Oil Sands!
via Steve

The plan is strip mine almost 1,000,000 acres in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming for bitumen and refine it to oil; a disaster for the land, the air, the watershed, as well as creatures and humans that depend upon it. Sixty-thousand acres in Utah has already been approved to be destroyed for the process.

US Oil Sands (USOS) "changing the way bitumen is extracted" is the organization that will do the work. From their website: "US Oil Sands is a growth-oriented energy company focused on environmentally sustainable heavy oil (bitumen) production of oil sands." Sure. There's nothing environmentally sustainable about strip mining and using oil for energy as in 40-50 years reserves will be depleted. USOS is a Canadian company expanding into the US and its Alberta project is a confirmed environmental disaster.

Heavy oil bitumen strip mining is by far is the most wasteful process for oil extraction and involves striping off the top layer of earth going approximately 150ft deep. All that's left after the process is barren sand.

The process uses 4 barrels of oil for every 12 extracted.

In Utah water will be pumped from the Green River to supply the project, and it's estimated that water would be sufficient to supply 4-million people downstream. The Green River dumps into the Colorado River which is already being drained at an unsustainable rate. Much of the southwest and southern California depend upon the Colorado River. California is already experiencing an extreme drought.

As with fracking the process leaches toxic chemicals into runoff affecting local water supply as well as rivers downstream. Incredibly, these chemicals are exempt from protections under The Clean Water Act because of the "Haiburton Loophole" in The Energy Policy Act of 2005. Former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney was instrumental in it's passage. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 also provides for federal subsidies and tax breaks that hugely profitable oil companies don't need.

Beyond water pollution, air pollution from the project will be from heavy machinery, methane leakage, and bitumen processing taking place at refineries in Salt Lake City.

So with Clean Water Act exemption legal leverage to stop the US Oil Sands project is limited. Another legal route could be the Endangered Species Act. In Colorado the endangered sage grouse lives on open plains where fracking is happening and planned. Unfortunately the governor is pro oil, and so pushing for the sage grouse not to be listed as endangered.

In Utah the director Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining John Baza on July 17, 2015 has approved expansion of the US Oil Sands strip mine operation contingent upon 1) establishing a monitoring program for potential effect to the possible subsurface water system 2) evidence of the operator's compliance with the appropriate air quality regulatory authority. These are vague and weak legal requirements and expecting USOS to comply is giving them free reign to do whatever they want. The regulatory authorities must be the ones legally bound to oversight.

You can write stating your views:
Director John Baza
Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining
P.O. Box 145801
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-5801

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