How To Talk To A Brick Wall

Utah Tar Sands Panel

Utah Tar Sands Panel

The Utah Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining held a hearing yesterday morning because a Canadian energy corporation has plans to mine large areas of Utah tar sands. Under state law, a hearing must be held if residents have objections.

I was worried nobody would be there to document the proceedings, so I took my camcorder to the event. The first part of the meeting was consumed by representatives for “U.S. Oil Sands”, defending the Calgary based company from questions about it’s protection of Utah’s water resources.

The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News did stories on the matter, but I’m pretty sure I was the only one who filmed the meeting. Television crews sometimes cover things getting set up and then leave when important public events get underway.

I’m only presenting comments given by the Utah activists and citizens who showed up and elected to speak. Obviously I didn’t have a tripod. Nothing has been edited except for where the second speaker gives his name. My battery had to be changed.


After the public comments, John Baza, who presided over the hearing said, “There are things that have been said here today that have touched me and I am sensitive to those.” My opinion is that the corporation will get everything it wants. Am I being cynical again?

UPDATE: Here is the panel discussion portion of the hearing. This is virtually the entire conversation. The short gaps were due to small camera adjustments. I’m still learning how to use it. :)

The man closest to, and facing away from my camera during the video and in the top picture of this post is University of Utah geology professor, Bill Johnson. He is fighting hard for Utah’s lands:

Please go to “Utah Tar Sands Resistance” to participate in stopping the destruction of our beautiful Utah lands or Donate!

UPDATE: Jill Merritt made up this handy list to navigate the first video. Thanks Jill!
speaker list 2

UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune has published two letters to the editor: From July 4th and July 5th. The paper has also published a very good editorial concerning the Tar Sands hearing:

Editorial: Tar sands extraction unproven and risky

UPDATE: As I suspected, the expansion of the “U.S. Oil Sands” project has been approved. The Salt Lake Tribune reports “a partial victory for environmentalists due to requiring the company to monitor nearby springs for potential groundwater contamination and submit documentation showing the mine is in compliance with air quality regulations. Of course none of the environmentalists wanted an expansion at all, and I have my doubts that the monitoring will be carried out sufficiently.

Here’s the latest Deseret News article.

  1. #1 by Richard Warnick on July 1, 2015 - 3:49 pm

    There are a few people who seem committed to direct action if necessary. Maybe the tar sands company management dismisses the possibility that their operations could be interfered with, but what about investors? Especially with rock-bottom oil prices and more clean energy coming online.

    Utah Tar Sands Resistance

  2. #2 by Larry Bergan on July 1, 2015 - 7:39 pm

    “Peaceful Uprising” others already saved some of that land before it became evident that oil wasn’t going to be as profitable.

    It’s so important to remember that everybody working on the pro-oil side of things are getting paid or hoping to get wealthy and the activists are not getting anything for what they do. Some of the participants are even facing criminal charges, but NOBODY in the group will ask you to go that far if you don’t want to. I wish I could go camp with them, but my mother is 94, and I have to hang around Salt Lake to help her when she needs it.

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on July 1, 2015 - 7:51 pm

    I had a hard time figuring out what was going on in the panel part of the meeting, but the man on far right side of my picture is University of Utah geology professor, Bill Johnson. He is fighting hard on our side.

    There were two photographers taking lots of pictures inside the hearing, but none of those showed up in the papers. It’s pretty obvious that our media isn’t going to make a big story out of this.

    I’m trying to do what I can.

    • #4 by Richard Warnick on July 2, 2015 - 8:48 am

      IMHO that’s what blogging is for, when we call attention to issues that the corporate media is not interested in reporting. The best kind of blogging is true citizen journalism, like this post!

      • #5 by Larry Bergan on July 2, 2015 - 10:14 am

        Thanks Richard. Coming from someone who I’ve always said should be employed in journalism, that means a lot!

        Please notice I’ve now included the panel discussion of the hearing.

  4. #6 by Larry Bergan on July 2, 2015 - 4:44 pm

    My only intent on this post was to be a small time C-Span. I just went into a public hearing and I hope I provided a chance for Utah citizens to look at the videos and decide for themselves.

    There was no chance for me to walk over to the panel and ask their names and occupations to add any context to the viewer. To tell you the truth, I thought the bad guy was probably Bill Johnson while trying to hold the camera on my leg that was falling asleep. I’m stunned that I didn’t get asked to leave.

    Comcast is credited with creating C-Span and now they want to take over the internet. Something’s wrong here.

    It’s not my job to figure out what’s going on. It’s the job of overworked Americans!

    I opine.

    • #7 by Larry Bergan on July 2, 2015 - 4:53 pm

      If I may reply to myself:

      I always looked at the top post as a place where you had to be somewhat serious, even if you weren’t paid.

      The comment section is where you got down in the dirt.

      There’s been no ruling on this by the supreme court… Thank Dog!

  5. #8 by Larry Bergan on July 4, 2015 - 3:42 pm


    Looks like tomorrow is going to be a big day for tar sands resistance in Canada. Impressive web page there 360!

    Between the Vatican and Canada, Naomi Klein is a busy lady!

  6. #9 by Larry Bergan on July 6, 2015 - 8:27 pm

    I have updated this post with two Salt Lake Tribune letters to the editor and one very good Tribune editorial that was published on July 3rd.

  7. #10 by Larry Bergan on July 18, 2015 - 2:48 pm

    The tar sands expansion has been approved. :( I have updated the post above with two new articles from The Salt Lake Tribune and The Deseret News.

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