SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An administrative law judge is defending a Utah state agency’s decision to issue a permit for a tar sands project — the first of its kind in the U.S.Judge Sandra Allen is turning back a challenge from the Moab-based environmental group Living Rivers in a decision issued Wednesday.
Allen found Living Rivers couldn’t prove the project would pollute any groundwater.
Her recommendation goes to the Utah Water Quality Board for a formal ruling.
U.S. Oil Sands Inc. says it will dig a 62-acre pit in Utah’s Uinta basin that could yield 4 million barrels of crude over about six years.
Executives hope to start producing oil next year. The Calgary, Alberta-based company holds leases on 50 square miles of state trust lands in eastern Utah.