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Guide to Oil Shale & Tar Sands Projects

Two Bad Projects

Red Leaf Resources' Oil Shale Mine

Red Leaf Resoures has approximately 17,000 acres (26.5 sq. miles) of land under lease. They propose to mine 100% of the land. Once Red Leaf Resources has mined the shale, Red Leaf Resources plans to cook the shale in giant capsules that will also serve as disposal cells. The company plans to stack the capsules two high. The technology would only remove 60% of the petroleum precursor (kerogen) and would generate contaminants for 50-100 years.


US Oil Sands' Tar Sands Mine

U.S. Oil Sands has 32,005 acres (50 square miles) of lands under lease. The company is proposing to strip mine all of the lands under lease. The work would require mountain tops to be removed and the valleys to be filled.

The industrial solvent the company would use (d-limonene, an orange terpene compound) is designed for one purpose - to turn solid tar into a liquid. That is the same as melting an asphalt parking lot out from under your feet.


The process to be employed does not remove 100% of either this d-limonene compound or tar, but the company wants to dispose of the waste stream directly back into the waste pit or as valley fill. The combined d-limonene/tar compound is over 1400 times more mobile than tar in its native state.

The net result is that local groundwater would be contaminated by petrochemical compounds whose concentrations are 400,000 times greater than allowed under federal law. State regulators are turning the other cheek.

Oil Shale Projects

Company Red Leaf Resources, Inc.
Location & Size

Uinta Basin in eastern Utah. The company has 18 mineral leases for 17,000 acres and plans to produce 9,500 barrels a day according to Deseret News.


On hold. The company bowed to water contamination concerns raised by Western Resource Advocates on behalf of the conservation organization Living Rivers.

WRA's Position

Red Leaf's plan is untested and not technologically feasible. Furthermore, hydrocarbons could leak through the clay ovens and pollute groundwater.

Stated Company Goal Red Leaf Resources, Inc. has developed the EcoShale™ In-Capsule Technology to economically and environmentally produce high quality liquid transportation fuels from oil shale, oil sands, coal, lignite and bio-mass.”

Tar Sands Projects


US Oil Sands, Inc. (Canadian Company)

Korea Technology Industry America (KTIA)*
Location & Size

PR Spring, Utah. The company has leases for 32,005 acres of land.

Crown Asphalt Ridge, near Vernal, Utah. The company has leased 760 acres of land and plans to access 1,200 barrels per day of potential bitumen.


The company has a permit to begin construction and is aiming to start production in 2013.

On hold they need to do additional analysis. The company filed for bankruptcy on August 22, 2011.

WRA's Position We are concerned that groundwater may exist in this area and that there could be a real danger of contamination. More testing is needed. The company claimed that putting leftover tailings back in the mine wouldnt cause groundwater contamination. Western Resource Advocates believes the company has no way of knowing if water contamination will or will not occur because they haven't done sufficient testing.
Stated Company Goal US Oil Sands plans to develop its oil sands properties using its unique proprietary extraction process. This process is a very efficient and environmentally responsible approach to oil sands development. Using a unique bio-solvent the Company is able to separate bitumen from oil sand without the need for tailings ponds. The process requires low energy input, recycles 95% of the water used and uses best practice mining methods to rapidly reclaim mined areas.” “Soung Kim, COO of Korea Technology Industry America, says, ‘Our end goal, really, is to be able to become one of the first companies to succeed in producing unconventional sources of oil.”
*Owns the site through its subsidiary Crown Asphalt Ridge, LLC (CAR).

Other Potential Oil Shale and Tar Sands Projects

Colorado Utah Wyoming

Shell, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, and American Shale Oil, LLC (“AMSO”)  are trying to develop technologies to extract oil shale.

Enefit is working to develop oil shale resources in Utah.

Anadarko Petroleum, with Earth Search Sciences and General Synfuels launched a pilot program near Rock Springs, WY to try and develop oil shale.

Western Resource Advocates is committed to stopping commercial development of these dirty fuels, and we are challenging the state's authorization of both projects.

When the Division of Water Quality approved U.S. Oil Sands' plan to dump tons of contaminated waste without requiring a ground water permit, Western Resource Advocates contested the decision. This case is still under review. Likewise, when the Division of Oil Gas and Mining (DOGM) took Red Leaf 's word that its giant clay cells would keep waste from leaking into the environment, Western Resource Advocates provided evidence that the cells would settle and leak and demanded the agency actually examine the company's claims. As a result, DOGM agreed to rescind its approval of the mine and the Red Leaf project is now on hold. We have also filed a challenge to a new mining permit sought by Korean Technology Industry America for its tar sands mine at Crown Asphalt Ridge. Our client in each case is the Moab-based Living Rivers.

Litigation remains the cornerstone of Western Resource Advocates' successful strategy in Utah.