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Having seen the huge clusterfuck that is the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta, the magic underpants-wearing wingnuts of Utah have become inspired.

Me too! they say.

There is a hearing tomorrow in Salt Lake City to discuss what would be the 1st proposed tar sands project ever in United States. Sure, Utah had a major oil spill not 2 months ago. But that was then, this is now.

This time the moose will pull a rabbit out of the hat, I'm just sure of it.

Or maybe not.

Even the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which is eying the "tar sands" of Utah for commercial development, acknowledges their development would "completely displace all other uses of the land."

Why should we simply build countless miles of pipeline to suck the juice from Alberta when we can ruin our own lands instead?

Environmentalists have reason to worry. Over the weekend a Chevron Corp. pipeline in Utah broke, sending an estimated 33,000 gallons of crude into a creek that ultimately flows into the Great Salt Lake.

Juliana Williams of the grassroots advocacy group calls the project in the southwest headwaters of Colorado River "absurd & disgusting". There are even worse terms that come to mind, but I digress. (Sign their petition to stop the project HERE.)

Whereas Alberta had a mere population of 37,222 when they began their tar sands projects, the proposed tar sands project is located within the Colorado River watershed water which provides water for 30 million people across the southwest. Do you think those that will see their water depleted and polluted will find it is a fair trade for a slightly cheaper SUV ride to the WalMart in a decade or two?

But yet the Drill, baby, Drill! crowd is as Shrill, baby, Shrill as ever.

And they are Shrill here, Shrill now.

Oil sands are a mixture of sand, clay and bitumen, a tar-like gooey substance that is converted to a synthetic crude oil before it’s transported by pipeline. Its extraction from beneath the forest can involve mining, extensive water and energy use, and the production of tailings ponds filled with toxic chemicals.

Studies have shown the energy required to extract oil from tar sands is greater than the energy we then get from the oil itself ("net energy"). If that doesn't make you scratch yer head, say WTF?, and get angry, then what will?

How about this:

   If the BLM’s preferred tar sands development scenario goes forth, air in the region could be contaminated with carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants, while air close to the site could be contaminated with benzene, toluene and formaldehyde, according to the report.

   More than 100,000 acres of wilderness-quality land could be industrialized, construction of reservoirs would alter natural streamflow patterns, hydrocarbons and herbicides could cause "chronic or acute toxicity" in wildlife and habitat for 20 threatened or endangered species could be lost, the report says.

Maybe the most shocking part of all this is that the company, Earth Energy Resources, is a privately held Canadian firm. Yup, this isn't even good ole American enterprise here. This is a foreign entity looking to pollute and extract oil from our pristine lands.

Where have I heard that one before...?

The company is seeking to use state-owned land only to avoid federal  oversight on this project. As of today, the Utah gas/mining board has given its tentative approval, but they have yet to issue the conditional use permit.

A hearing about objections tomorrow in Salt Lake City might be the biggest/best chance this summer to attract media coverage which might scare away investors who don't want to become the next BP.

For those who prefer a more visually compelling case, what we are saying is that this:


Above photos by LaughingPlanet

Can become this:

Credit: Buffalo Post

Credit: WWF

This insanity must end now.

Tar sands, as well as other inferior fossil fuels like oil shale, simply should not be part of the equation. Tar sands are a starkly inefficient, polluting, ecologically disastrous and expensive way to power our cars and trucks.

We need a national renewable electricity standard (RES) ASAP, and we need to get over our 19th-century energy system.

Just like slash and burn agriculture is a huge problem that must be completely halted if we are to preserve our planet's rain forests, gash and burn energy extraction must be phased out as quickly as possible if we are to have a prayer at halting the most devastating effects of climate change.

No new coal plants.
No new deep-water drilling.
And for FSM sake, no new tar sands projects!

Originally posted to The Laughing Planet on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 02:45 PM PDT.

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