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Oil Shale and Tar Sands

Main Canyon in the East Tavaputs Plateau
Main Canyon in the East Tavaputs Plateau

UPDATE as of September 2023


Oil shale and tar sands remains a speculative industry in the arid lands of the Colorado Plateau. A general lack of water is why the industry will never be viable. If the oil corporations buy the water from farmers, that would create food insecurity and increase dependance on transportation fuels to import food from other watersheds; ever-expanding metropolises covet that same water too.

Even if alternative chemical washes are used to separate bitumen from sand, for example, it still requires 2 barrels of water to refine a single barrel of synthetic crude. What this extraction will accomplish is physical damage to the Colorado River  watershed, which supplies culinary water to nearly 30 million people. It  will also create more CO2 in the atmosphere, which is the #1 killer of  the Rocky Mountain snowpack, which provides 85% of the Colorado River's  total annual water supply. Our watershed needs investors to create a  reliable energy supply that will heal the water supply of the Colorado  River, not destroy it.

CLICK HERE to read information about the Programmatic EIS for oil shale and tar sands in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah

CLICK HERE to watch the first documentary about Utah unconventional fuel called Last Rush for the Wild West: Tar Sands. Oil Shale and the American Frontier.

Independent Technical Memorandum: Greenhouse Gas & Water Footprints of Oil Shale & Tar Sands Resources & Projects in the Upper Colorado River Basin. 2018, EcoShift. The Executive Summary of this report is HERE.

Inventory of Tar Sand Deposits in Utah
Federal Lands (BLM)
  • NOTE: there are no tar sands in Colorado or Wyoming.
  • 2008 - Total identified is 430,686 acres
  • 2012 - The proposed preferred alternative identifies 91,045 acres
  • RECORD OF DECISION (Issued March 22, 2013)
State Land (SITLA)



DOCUMENTS for Oil Shale


DOCUMENTS for Tar Sands




Piceance Basin (Western Colorado) DOCUMENT ARCHIVE
Chevron RD&D

EGL Resources

Exxon Mobil RD&D

Natural Soda RD&D

Shell Frontier RD&D

Maps: Piceance Basin RD&D

Uinta Basin (Eastern Utah)


Wyoming  (Upper Green River Basin)



Dam Operations
Public Notices


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Uranium Watch
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Utah Tar Sands Resistance
Wabi Sabi
Waterkeeper Alliance

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