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Asphalt Ridge Leasing of Federal Lands for Proposed Tar Sands Strip Mining Operations

June 04, 2013
by John Weisheit

Comments are due June 13, 2013.

Please reference Tar Sands Leasing EA when submitting comments. Written comments may be mailed or emailed, using the following:

Mailing Address
Bureau of Land Management
Vernal Field Office
170 South 500 East
Vernal, Utah 84078

Email Address

Geology and Geography

The tar sands are in the Duschene Formation and because of rock layers are tilted (sloping downward to the southwest), the tar sands are exposed at the surface and as a ridge; hence the name, Asphalt Ridge. As the easy-to-get surface deposits are removed, the mining district will have to chase the ore deposits that are deeply buried within the ridge, which means the miners will have to deal with the overburden at some point. At that time the mining will either end, or the mining activites will shift to either underground mining techniques, or withdrawal by steam-injection procedures.

The tar sands mining district of Asphalt Ridge is immediately next to the city limits of Vernal. Mining activities will literally occur in the backyards of residential homes, schools and churches, and these mining activities will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Obviously the city of Vernal and Naples will eventually look, smell and sound like an industrialized energy colny.

When, the oil and gas boom is over and the oil corportions leave, which will happen in less than 25-years, Vernal and Naples will become a discarded and ruined community.

Article: How Vernal Utah Learned to Love Big Oil


Crown Asphalt Ridge (CAR) Korea Technology Industry of America (Defunct)

Crown Asphalt Ridge (CAR)
Department of Water Quality (DWQ) Documents

MCW Energy Group @ Asphalt Ridge


History of this Federal Action Since 2005 Energy Policy Act

In January 2009, numerous plaintiffs filed a complaint in the District Court of Colorado to prevent the Record of Decision for the 2008 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for oil shale and tar sands from going into effect.

A settlement agreement reached in February 2011 specifically exempts ongoing consideration of the expression of interest (EOI) for tar sands leasing in Asphalt Ridge, as well as the possible sale or issuance of a lease for parcels identified in the EOI.

Additionally, the BLM undertook a new public planning process related to oil shale and tar sands leasing in April 2011 and finalized a new PEIS in November 2012. The 2012 PEIS similarly exempted ongoing BLM-Utah decision-making efforts regarding the lands included in the pending Asphalt Ridge tar sands leasing application.

This PEIS amends land use plans and describes the most geologically prospective areas administered by the BLM in Utah where tar sands resources are present, and identifies areas open to application for commercial leasing, exploration and development. Tar sand leasing can only take place in designated STSAs under orders issued by the Department of Interior on November 10, 1980 (45 FR 76800), and January 21, 1981 (46 FR 6077). 

Asphalt Ridge STSA is specifically analyzed in the PEIS and 5,310 acres of Federal lands and 125 acres of non-federal surface/federal minerals are identified for commercial tar sand development in the STSA. 

The present Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared to disclose and analyze the environmental consequences of leasing one tar sand parcel comprised of 6 pieces totaling 2,116 acres located in the Asphalt Ridge Special Tar Sand Area (STSA).  

CLICK HERE to read additional information about the ongoing PEIS process

Enviromental Impact Statements of the 1980s by BLM

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has received an expression of interest for this parcel, which may be offered as a competitive lease. This tar sand parcel occurs adjacent to 16,241 acres of leases issued by the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and directly south of an existing mine and processing plant on private land.



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