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Looking at Keystone XL: Could Alberta Happen Here?

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Although the Athabasca oil sands is the largest single oil sand deposit in the world, other pockets of bitumen exist. One of the most substantial is in the Uintah Basin in Utah. In 2009, the Canadian company Earth Energy Resources received a permit from Utah’s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining to begin developing these oil sands starting in early 2012.

That worries the Ute Tribe, who call the Uintah Basin home. Technically, the Earth Energy Resources project is not on Ute lands. Nonetheless, in 2010, the National Tribal Air Association declared, “The location of this development has the potential to directly affect tribal lands on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation.” In an Associated Press article published earlier this year, however, Earth Energy Resources offered assurances that it will comply with all environmental standards, and that it has devised a “revolutionary” citrus-based solvent that “leaves behind no toxic chemicals.”

Pollution aside, not all experts are sold on the Utah project. “If this project only produces 2,000 barrels of oil a day, it’s irrelevant in terms of the 19 million barrels the U.S. consumes a day,” said Richard Fineberg, a pipeline analyst with Alaska-based Research Associates, in the AP story.

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