Fighting a plan to mine oil in Utah using billions of gallons of Colorado River water

Jan 5, 2023

On this episode of The Landscape, Kate and Aaron are joined by Grand Canyon Trust staff attorney Michael Toll to discuss a plan to mine hundreds of thousands of barrels of waxy crude oil in Utah near Dinosaur National Monument, using billions of gallons of Colorado River Water.

A loophole in Utah law enabled an Estonian state-owned company called Enefit to buy 3.2 billion gallons of Colorado River water for just $10 in 2015. Now, Enefit wants to use that water to extract oil in the Uinta Basin using a novel method that is around 75 percent more carbon-intensive than traditional fossil fuel drilling. Toll discusses how Enefit acquired its massive water right and how the Grand Canyon Trust is fighting Enefit’s plan.


  • House speaker vote could portend ‘pure chaos’ for GOP policy agenda – Washington Post
  • In Arizona, Colorado River crisis stokes worry over growth and groundwater depletion – Los Angeles Times
  • How a Utah utility is helping an Estonian oil company hoard Colorado River water – Grist
  • New national monument proposed south of Joshua Tree National Park – Desert Sun


Hosts: Kate Groetzinger & Aaron Weiss


Music: Purple Planet

Featured image: Staplegunther, Wikimedia Commons