Utah board takes up appeal of Book Cliffs oil sands project

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Water Quality Board is deciding whether to uphold a state permit for the first commercial oil sands project in the U.S.

Board members are holding a hearing on an appeal by a Moab-based environmental group.

Living Rivers argues the project in eastern Utah’s Book Cliffs area will contaminate groundwater.

An administrative law judge rejected the argument in August by ruling there is no significant groundwater in the desert area.

Living Rivers is appealing that recommendation. The group says it will take the fight to the Utah Court of Appeals if necessary.

U.S. Oil Sands Inc. says a citrus-based solvent will leave the oil-soaked sands as clean as beach sand.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company is looking for investors before digging a 62-acre pit.


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