State approves tar sands mine, requires water monitoring

Brady McCombs – The Spectrum

Utah state officials have given the go-ahead for a tar sands mine under construction the eastern flank of the state, but they will require the company to do water and air quality monitoring in a move environmentalists are calling a victory.

Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining director John Baza said Monday that his decision addresses concerns raised by opposition while acknowledging that U.S. Oil Sands Inc., the Canadian company building the mine, has complied with regulations.

Baza’s ruling, announced late Friday, comes nearly three weeks after he hosted a public hearing to listen to concerns from opponents and give the company a chance to explain a project under construction on a ridge top in the Book Cliffs area on the border of Uintah County more than 200 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

U.S. Oil Sands must now submit a plan for the monitoring by Nov. 1, Baza said. As long as the company does that, Baza said it will be cleared to move forward with plans to begin extracting oil sands later this year from a sparsely populated area that is home to many types of wildlife such as deer, beavers and bears. (…)

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