Oil sands development facing legal challenges in Utah and Alberta

Oil sands projects in the US and Canada are facing legal challenges and charges.Oil sands projects in the US and Canada are facing legal challenges and charges.

In Utah, there are disagreements over whether an oil sands mine will harm the ground and surface water nearby, according to Utah television channel KSL. Located in the eastern part of the state, the there is a lack of ground water around the mine according to tests done by U.S. Oil Sands, which ought to make it safe to drill. However, environmental groups believe the mine will have an effect on the watersheds that feed into the Colorado River system.

The state has already issued an interim permit to mine the area while the legal battle between the mining company and its opposition continues to stall permanent drilling permission. According to preliminary research, 190 million barrels of crude oil potentially be mined at the site.

Meanwhile, in Canada, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) is facing charges over a gas leak in northern Alberta.

The government said that a CNRL oil sands upgrader facility north of Fort McMurray is the source of the leak.

"These are definitely serious charges," Nikki Booth, a spokesperson for Alberta Environment, said Friday. "It is something that we felt we needed to do to ensure that there is environmental responsibility on the part of the company."

The company is faced with 11 charges. Each carries a maximum fine of $500,000 dollars.

More information on oil sands can be found on PennEnergy's research area.

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