Mr. Paulette is a native Indian who lived in the area of the tar sands in Alberta. He talked about high rates of certain cancers in his people (cancers associated with exposure to hydrocarbons), deformed fish, and toxins from the ponds seeping into the land and polluting their rivers.
I am not a geologist, biologist or soil expert but this is what I understand. The oil/tar sands are located “close to the surface” (20 feet) in this area. To get to the oil/tar sands the oil companies will need to remove 20 feet of the landscape- plants, soil, rocks, etc. Then they will remove the precursor of oil from the sand and then put it all back the way they found it. They say they will no longer be using the toxic chemicals that were used in Alberta, Canada. Now they are using citric acid, which makes it all better. And according to Phil’s guest, “this is only the beginning.”
Again, I am not an expert on anything, but this I do know: Utah has a very fragile environment due to the lack of water. I do not want to see areas where the landscape has been removed because I do not believe you can put it back the way it was. You can re-plant all you want but that does not mean it will re-grow. More likely, undesirable plants will blow in and take over the landscape.
Alberta, Canada, is very green with lots of rivers and tributaries. Mr. Paulette remarked that “you have no water here” why would you risk polluting the small amount of water that you do have. Using tar/oil sands to obtain oil is more expensive and damaging to the environment than drilling for oil. More emissions are created in this process by bulldozers, trucks, and processing plants. Is it worth it for Moab and the surrounding area?
And why did Mr. Paulette come to Moab? He came to tell us to take care of our land and to think about what we are doing. And most important, he wants us to consider what we will leave behind for our grandchildren.