Update 09:40 MDT (-7GMT): Police have arrived at the scene but have not advanced on any people present for the blockade. Police from two state agencies as well as Grand County and Uintah County are on site.
Update 8:39: two tripods as well as other blockade tactics are being used to disrupt work at the tar sands mine.
Update 08:25: blockade is in place!
Update 08:15 8/10/15: two tripods have been erected blocking construction of a major haul road at the strip mine site. Police became aware of the action only after everything was in place and workers began arriving.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
PR SPRINGS– Several dozen climate justice land defenders will enforce a shut down at the US Oil Sands tar sands mine today in the Book Cliffs of Utah. The action comes just days after a century-old mine poured millions of gallons of toxic sludge into waterways that sustain 40 million Americans.
Calgary-based US Oil Sands is amidst an $80-million construction phase to assemble processing equipment, clear cut more land for more strip mine pits and ultimately to turn tar sands rocks into liquid fuels. The company operates on land traditionally inhabited by Ute people and is now managed and leased to private corporations by the state of Utah.
The Animas River in nearby Colorado Wednesday was doused in toxic heavy metals from a long-abandoned gold mine–lead, arsenic and other poisons turned the river bright mustard yellow for several days. Many people risk drinking water contamination and water shortages. Thousands of mines across the region are in similarly dangerous condition.
Peaceful Uprising and other critics say tar sands and oil shale mining as well as oil and gas fracking open a new era of looming mining-related environmental disasters in the Upper Colorado River Basin. As well ongoing fossil fuel development contributes to climate catastrophes.
“Thousands of mines like open wounds tell the story of a century of exploitation, destruction and violence–against the people of this land and the land and water themselves,” said Melanie Martin of Peaceful Uprising, on behalf of the crowd. “US Oil Sands continues that sick tradition by squandering precious water in a thirsty region and saddling future generations with a toxic legacy there is no way to clean up.”
US EPA has attempted to intervene in construction of the tar sands mine in “Indian country,” but the company has stubbornly rebuffed the federal regulators. The state of Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining recently approved an expansion of the the US Oil Sands strip mine operation, but also demanded the company begin monitoring its toxic water emissions into the Colorado River watershed. That came after a University of Utah study found US Oil Sands mining plans are dangerously unsafe to the aquifers and water systems of the East Tavaputs Plateau.
The action comes on the heels of a week-long action training camp that the US Bureau of Land Management sought to stop. Organizers persisted and put on the training camp nevertheless. People-enforced shut downs of operations have plagues the company for years and campaigners from Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Canyon Country Rising Tide, and others, vow some day to shut down the tar sands mine completely and forever.
For updates on the action, as well as photos and videos as they become available, stay tuned to http://www.peacefuluprising.org/ACA201
Press contact: 435-219-1476