Rewind: Utah Seek Funds to Develop Toxic TarSands
Picked this up over at Buzztail.net. Treehugger reported on this last fall.
[Above Image]This is what the tar sands did to Alberta’s boreal forests. Image via Boreal Song Bird Initiative.
You’ve likely heard about the infamous Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada. They’re a major source of controversy in the energy world and the environmental community (to put it lightly), and for good reason. Extracting oil from tar sands is far more degrading to the environment than typical oil extraction, as the process destroys forest, emits substantially more greenhouse gas, contaminates nearby habitat, and consumes mammoth amounts of water. And now, the United States could be getting its very first commercial tar sands project in Utah.
The Associated Press reports that “A top Utah regulator approved plans Monday for the first commercial U.S. oil sands project. John Baza, director of Utah’s Division of Oil, Gas & Mining, upheld an earlier decision by his staff to give Earth Energy Resources Inc. a permit to mine a 62-acre pit in eastern Utah.”
Now, the project is still seeking funding — Earth Energy is trying to drum up $35 million to finance the project — and it could be halted by national regulators. But if it does get underway, it, like the Canadian tar sands, will be absolutely devastating. There’s a reason that many environmental groups consider the already existing tar sands the most environmentally deadly operation around: It’s hard to conceive of a project that’s more destructive in more areas.
Huffington Post reported:
According to Alberta’s government, their oil sands are the second largest source of oil in the world following Saudi Arabia. In 2008, Environmental Defence released a report condemning Alberta’s tar sands as “the most destructive project on Earth,” polluting water with toxic waste, destroying a large portion of the boreal forest, provoking acid rains, and drastically contributing to greenhouse gases in the environment.
Latest News March 9, 2011 Salt Lake Tribune:
Tar sands are no longer a what-if. This water-intensive mining may be coming to Utah soon, and what it could become is a big deal indeed.
Unlike gas wells, extracting oil from sand is neither quiet nor unobtrusive. Despite admirable efforts to minimize water use and reduce water pollution, the industry uses considerable water and generates wastes, especially if pipelines are built and field refineries established to avoid trucking the thick oil.
It is estimated that making usable oil from tar sands consumes four barrels of energy to make 10 barrels of synthetic crude, generating greenhouse gases in the process. It requires a huge infrastructure to supply that up-front energy and transport the oil out.