A section of Utah’s Book Cliffs, near which the tar-sands mine will operate. (Photo by Shutterstock.)

Look, America, you’re getting tar-sands oil whether you like it or not. Kiboshing the Keystone pipeline? Big whoop. Utah’s going start mining tar sands of its own. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

An administrative law judge has affirmed Utah’s decision to OK a Book Cliffs tar sands mine without requiring a groundwater pollution permit.

The decision nearly concludes the state’s permitting for the nation’s first fuel-producing tar sands mine, leaving two state boards who were waiting on the judge’s recommendation to sign off. …

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Judge Sandra Allen’s decision hinged on whether there was groundwater around PR Spring in the arid high country between Vernal and Moab. If so, the state might require a pollution permit for any chemicals that might leach into it and ultimately reach the Colorado River. The company, Alberta-based U.S. Oil Sands, argued that there was no saturated groundwater — just intermittent precipitation and a deep regional aquifer that would be unaffected — and therefore no need for a permit.

Learn more here about the increasingly perilous state of the world’s aquifers, information presented for no reason whatsoever, why do you ask?

The arid climate and deep aquifer are actually good news. When it comes to tar sands, though, the real, known damage is the extraction, processing, and combustion of the oil. It’s nasty stuff anywhere but in the ground. Here’s what one tar-sands mine in Alberta looks like. It’s a brutal, ugly process.

So, you know: Good luck, Utah. Hope nothing horrible happens.

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You too, America.

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