(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Washington D.C. — Even before Tom Weis made his call for people to show up at the site of U.S. Oil Sands tar sands development, Utah’s own Utah Tar Sands Resistance (UTSR) has been holding campouts at PR Springs to bring attention to the problem, accountability to the process and opportunities for people to learn about the beauty and wonder of nature that exists in the Eastern Utah environment.
UTSR has ramped up its presence in PR Springs with a “permanent protest vigil.” The summer of protest will be punctuated by campouts for anyone who feels like he or she has a stake in the tar sands development and what it means for climate justice and health in the Uintah Basin.
“This issue really does impact us all,” says Jessica Lee, one of the organizers at UTSR.
The weekend of June 20, 2014 will feature an intergenerational campout specifically geared toward children and families. Lee describe last year’s intergenerational campout as a success and says she was surprised at what the children were able to learn over the course of a couple of days.
The weekend of June 27 will concentrate on showing solidarity for the 5th annual and final Healing Walk, a protest against the Athabascan Tar Sands operation and the damage that it is doing to the environment and the people in the area. According to Lee, there will be discussions drawing connections will “for this global fossil fuel infrastructure.”
Protestors hope that investors will see the costs as too expensive, especially since the tar sands of Utah have never been successfully developed. While critics levy charges that environmentalist delaying tactics are useless, organizers and researchers know that delaying can be an effective tactic.
“The more projects are delayed; the more expensive they are,” says Lee citing new research from the University of Queensland, Harvard Kennedy School and Clark University.
UTSR isn’t the only organization that is ramping up its activities as speculative tar sands developers like Ambre Energy, an Australian company that focuses on international trade of American Coal assets and American Sands Energy Corp., a Delaware company developing private lands near Price, Utah are looking to cash in on the black gold rush in Eastern Utah.
Uintah County’s oil boom has not come without a cost to its every day citizens. The area had a neonatal mortality rate six times higher than the national average in 2013. A rate that has skyrocketed from a number in line with the national average in 2010.
While the Utah Department of Health is funding a TriCounty Health Department study, which according to reports will not include 2013, about the neonatal mortality rate, people are wondering how many babies have to die in order to reach the conclusion that fossil fuel development and the air pollution it brings with it have caused this profitable boom for multinational corporations and apparent bust for would-be parents.
UTSR will have more campouts throughout the summer. It is free to participate in campouts and everyone is welcome; however, organizers say that those wishing to camp should bring food, water, camping gear and warm clothes for the evening. People who need help with transportation can contact UTSR. Updates can be monitored at Facebook or visit its website.