(KCPW News) A conservation group is appealing the Utah Division of Water Quality’s preliminary approval of a permit for a tar sands project at a two-day hearing in Salt Lake City. Rob Dubuc, an attorney for Moab-based Living Rivers, made the case against granting a groundwater discharge permit for the PR Springs project in Uintah County this morning.
“PR Springs mine is located adjacent to the Book Cliffs in Eastern Utah. In the area of the mine, local springs and seeps that are hydrologically connected to groundwater support a variety of endangered, threatened and sensitive plant and wildlife species,” he said.
But attorney Chris Hogle, representing U.S. Oil Sands, Inc., argued there simply is no groundwater that will be impacted by the company’s tar sands project.
“Is there any groundwater for the project to impact? Not potential groundwater – groundwater. That’s what the rule says; it’s groundwater. Mr. Dubuc tries to lower the bar and say he only has to identify evidence of potential groundwater because he knows there’s no actual groundwater,” he says.
The state’s Water Quality Board will receive a written recommendation from the administrative law judge hearing the appeal before making a final decision on the permit. The hearings aren’t open to the public, but are being streamed online by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.