At Least Tar Sands Aren’t 5,000 Feet Below the Sea

As if the BP Oil Spill wasn’t warning enough, a controversial and environmentally detrimental new technique for extracting oil from sand is going to be used in the United States for the first time.


John Baza, director of Utah’s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, approved the technique known as “tar sands extraction” to be used in his state by Earth Energy Resource Inc. According to the Huffington Post, the technique has been used in Alberta, Canada, and caused a dangerous drop in the water level of the Athabasca River.

Problems with tar sands extraction:
1) It takes 3 barrels of water to extract 1 barrel of oil.
2) 3 times the greenhouse emissions of other oil collection methods
3) Pollutes the local water supplies
4) Increases the risk of acid rain
5) Destroys surrounding forests and environments


Here is the worst part: 7 years of tar sands extraction in Utah would supply enough oil to satisfy demand for 7 hours. It doesn’t add up when you compare the 7 hours of energy with the years of detrimental damage done to the environment in Utah.

If the project moves forward, it will involve a 213-acre space and 30 million people. Utah already has an issue with their water supply, so this method of oil extraction could prove more harmful than anyone expects.

There is a possibility the project will be halted. The AP reported that it can still be appealed to a state board, but nothing is set in stone.

The tourism industry in that area of Utah brings in $7.1 billion annually and employs 113,000 people. If Baza’s choice to move forward with tar sands extraction causes similar problems that the BP Oil Spill caused in the Gulf, he will have some serious questions to answer.

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