Citizens’ Public Hearing against Tar Sands

April 23, 2012 – Peaceful Uprising along with Utah Tar Sands Resistance, iMatter Utah & Occupy SLC present  guerrilla street theater at SITLA – Utah School Institutional Trust Lands Administration – in protest of SITLA’s leasing of lands for tar sands development. Furthermore, our intent is not only to educate, but to catalyze broader support for tar sands resistance in Utah and nationwide.

This is the first enactment of PeaceUp’s quarterly Community Audits for 2012 . The community audit model seeks to identify and take action toward both hot spots (sources of injustice to protest) and cool spots (sources of hope to support). In addition to the Tar Sands “hot spot” at SITLA, PeaceUp will also hold a “cool spot” action on Wednesday in solidarity with those fighting for human rights. Check out our blog post to read how we’ve connected the dots between tar sands and immigrant rights (Hint: it has to do with the economy).

SITLA’s website reveals the injustice we’re protesting: “In 1994, the Utah Legislature created the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). SITLA was structured like a business with a policymaking Board of Trustees and a Director to prudently and profitably manage the lands for Utah schools and institutions… All net revenue is saved in the permanent fund, which means a barrel of oil produced today will support Utah’s school children forever.”

Activists deny this statement because failing to curb carbon emissions now and address the climate crisis is neglecting the well being of Utah’s school children. Organizers also point out that money is going to pay salaries and not to schools.  SITLA’s website shows average amounts received is very low.  In 2011-12 Elementary Schools $25,066; Middle Schools $35,702; High Schools $41,014.

Melanie Martin, who collaborated to write the script, made a statement, “I’m part of this event today because tar sands and oil shale development would have a tremendously negative impact on climate change as well as local environments. Sacrificing our environment for education does no service for our school children.We need to leave them and all future generations with a healthy world.”

Henia Belalia from Peaceful Uprising says, “The launch of our first 2012 Community Audit Action has been genuinely collaborative and humbling, with activists representing multiple different causes coming together to connect the dots — labor, immigrant, social, economic and climate justice. That’s what it will take to win: understanding how intimately connected these issues are, and the vital role these connections will play  in bringing more voices in our plight for a just and healthy tomorrow.”

Our ongoing campaign goal is to stop tar-sands leases in Utah and demand that the governor, legislators and SITLA board members plan for Utah’s children in regard to the climate crisis not for short term profit.

Full album of photos: