More than 50 protesters are taking credit for shutting down an oil sands operation in the Book Cliffs north of Moab. Some hung banners from heavy equipment, while others say they locked themselves to machinery.
“Dozens of individuals peacefully disrupted road construction and stopped operations today at the site of a proposed tar sands mine in the Bookcliffs range of southeastern Utah,” said Celia Alario, a spokeswoman for Canyon Country Rising Tide and Peaceful Uprising.
The independent road crew were working on Seep Ridge Road, in the East Tavaputs area.
The protest on Monday, July 29 was the culmination of a week-long action camp, where people from the Colorado Plateau gathered to share skills in civil disobedience and nonviolent direct action.
“The proposed tar sands and oil shale mines in Utah threaten nearly 40 million people who rely on the precious Colorado River System for their life and livelihood,” said Emily Stock, a seventh generation Grand County resident and organizer with Canyon Country Rising Tide. “The devastating consequence of dirty energy extraction knows no borders, and we stand together to protect and defend the rights of all communities, human and non-human.”
U.S. Oil Sands Inc., a Canadian corporation, has received all the required regulatory permits to mine for tar sands in the region, and could scale up operations within a year. U.S. Oil Sands said it doesn’t plan to get started digging into a 62-acre pit until next year.
“The networks of groups and individuals taking action today in Utah have come together in an alliance that is historically unprecedented for this region. We join with others around the world, forming a coordinated response to these threats to our air, water, land, communities and to the larger climate impacts of this dirty energy development model,” said Lauren Wood, a seventh generation Utahn and third generation Green River outfitter.
Utah’s School Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), is the agency leasing the land for tar sands mining to US Oil Sands.
“Tar sands strip mining would be worst thing for the state, this country and the world. Although SITLA professes to care about the children, it consistently puts short term economic gain over the long term health of the very children it professes to benefit,” Stock said. “There are no jobs on a dead planet. We need heroes not puppets of corporate interest who steal from current and future generations to line the pockets of a greedy few, at the expense of our communities and our environment.”
Groups have vowed to continue their efforts to protect the Colorado River System and are planning future demonstrations and actions to stop the tar sands strip mining and other “dirty energy projects” across the region.
Authorities say nobody was working the tar sands pit and that the protesters managed only to chase away a road crew. No arrests were made. Uintah County Undersheriff John Laursen says one protester locked himself to machinery with handcuffs, but others were attaching themselves with Duct tape.