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How This Man Stopped A Tar Sands Strip Mine

Roosevelt — di·vest [dih-vest, dahy-] – to deprive or dispossess especially of property, authority, or title

This is the story of Lewis Cooper, an ex-Pennzoil Capital Relations Manager who also happens to be one of only 5 neighbors that live up glorious White Rocks Canyon, a place so pristine with beauty that it often leaves the rare visitor awestruck.

White Rocks, located in Utah near the Colorado border, is the same amazing landscape where the 1972 Robert Redford classic ‘Jeremiah Johnson’ was filmed, and millions have enjoyed it’s splendor on movie and television screens over the decades without even knowing it’s name or where it is located. But a few years back an asian-backed Canadian company put together a plan to strip and reduce the glory of White Rocks down to mere rubble in an experimental plan to plunder carbon-loaded Utah tar sands oil.

The problem is you see, these experimental oil sands plays have been tried before out in the Western U.S., but no one seems to ever learn their lesson from those now seemingly ancient bituminous disasters, where gorgeous wilderness areas were raped of all life and to the bare bone in exploratory adventures that scarcely yielded a barrel of crude oil, and that is no exaggeration.

‘Why the difficulty?’ one might ask. Well, each and every time another energy industry cowboy gets a wild hair up their ‘you know what’ and takes a gander at some mineral leases containing bituminous sands, the result is nearly always the same: Stripped and plundered test sites, left abandoned and devoid of all life, following yet another extraction experiment that likely yielded no end product at all.

Several of these bankrupt experiments like the old Leonard Murphy Mine on the Tavaputs Plateau, were carried out in the Reagan years of deregulation madness, contain no bond, and were left to rust and rot, oozing deadly and even uranium-containing bitumen into the environment, 30 years later, with no cleanup plan in site.

Part of the struggle in transforming these “burnable rocks” into an end product like gasoline is that each new oil-sand-containing area involves unique geological nomenclatures, so what works up in Canada in the Athabasca tar sands for instance, fails to work in an area in Utah. What might have a slim chance of working in a particular location in Utah, won’t work at all in a different set of nomenclatures in California, and so forth. So, in essence each new U.S. tar sand adventure requires a new discovery of practically ‘magical’ and “proprietary” technologies that will only work in that particular set of geological circumstances. That is, if it works at all.

The whole history of these “proprietary” tar sand technologies has proven to be completely farcical, and frankly has led to one “investor scheme” after the next in a string of bankrupt, abandoned, and demolished test sites that have left those corresponding areas denuded of all vegetation, and devoid of life.

In 2008 Lewis Cooper received a letter in the mail from a company baring the ominous name of “Black Oil Sands”, and what the letter contain therein was a shock to the man who had lived and recreated in pristine White Rocks since he was a wee lad. You see, his grandfather had homesteaded this vast stretch of wilderness back in the late 1800′s, and even today only 5 neighbors occupy these parts.

Cooper admitted that his first response to the letter was one of an emotional nature that landed him in the heavily disregarded, attacked, and discredited “NIMBY” group, a coined phrase that he had to look up on the web after being called the term in an investor forum. NIMBY – Not In My BackYard — That was the definition staring back at him from the websearch, but this career-long oil industry employee and engineer was already beginning to uncover the “ridiculousness” of what he called just another oil-patch “investment scheme”. At that point, he decided to fight back, with “data” and the “facts” as his main weapons against the Canadian-based, Korean/Chinese-backed asphalt adventure company.

After rallying together 4 of his 5 immediate White Rocks neighbors, as well as about 50 concerned neighbors from local downstream Native American communities, Cooper commenced his deployment of a barrage of tactics against the would-be tar sands pirate. They held town-halls, met with regulatory agencies, and even invited Black Oil Sands (Nevtah) executives to meet with them in their community. Despite all these efforts, the greatest impact came when they attacked the Nevtah investor forums, stinging shareholders like swarming bees, emanating from a magnificent canyon in the great ‘Beehive State’ (Utah), a canyon that acted like a hive that they were determined to protect.

These highly potent information stingers would turn out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the plan of tar sands plunder, a “scheme” that sought to make the pockets of foreign investors fat, at the expense of one of America’s great wilderness treasures.

According to Cooper, the majority of the damage was done in a 24 hour period wherein stock values had started off the day at a value around $4.50, but by the end of the day were sitting at a crippled $0.25. He says they did this by a calculated full-frontal info attack, where they launched data bomb after data bomb at the Nevtah/Black Oil Sands investors. Many of those educational missiles contained points of correction to the ‘white picket fence’ story sold to them by the Black Oil Sands gang, a story that Lewis Cooper called a pure “facade”.

When investors began to realize the unfeasibility of the project, after being hit with the strategically targeted historic, geologic, engineering, and economic information bombs, a jump-ship trend ensued wherein prominent shareholders began to dump their penny stock as frantically as possible, causing a severe deflation of the stock value, in-turn rendering the company virtually bankrupt overnight.

The more investors became ‘DIVESTORS’ by jumping ship, the more the stock plummeted. This led to a cascading, frenzy-driven event of investors dumping their holdings, cutting their losses, and getting out as fast as possible before the value bottomed out completely. The faster they got out, the faster the value collapsed, leaving Black Oil Sands practically valueless by the end of the trading day.

Divestment campaigns have had success in the past and have had a noticeable impact on corporate ‘persons’ in the tobacco, automotive, and fossil fuels industries, and it would seem that environmental activists these days are becoming ever more privy to the now known fact that carefully targeted information campaigns, and in some cases even direct actions of protest and civil disobedience, can move stock value and effect trading activity. At EnviroNews, we will be watching carefully to see if this style of activism will catch on and gain more popularity in the upcoming months and years. Who knows? Perhaps initiating and driving divestment campaigns will even become a new trend.

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