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American Potash seeks operations in Grand County, Utah

November 21, 2023
by John S. Weisheit

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All comments must be submitted by

  • 11:59 p.m. MST on Dec. 18, 2023
  • BLM Moab Field Office, Attn: American Potash Green River Project, 82 East Dogwood Moab, Utah 84532
  • Email:,
  • Subject: American Potash Green River Project
Documents of the Administrative Record

Press Release by Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Moab Field Office seeks public input during a 30-day comment period on the American Potash LLC Green River Potash Project Environmental Assessment. The environmental assessment analyzes a proposal from American Potash LLC to drill four exploratory wells on federal lands in Grand County, Utah, to obtain geologic data about potentially valuable potash deposits and other associated mineral salts. The proposed wells are located approximately 27 miles southeast of Green River, Utah, and 21 miles northwest of Moab, Utah.

“The BLM manages lands for multiple use and sustained yield, providing opportunities for responsible mineral and energy development,” said Moab Field Manager Dave Pals. “The public can help inform these multiple uses by providing detailed comments on environmental analyses for proposals such as this one. We appreciate input and feedback to improve this analysis and help inform the decision for this project.”

Interested members of the public, local governments, Tribal Nations, organizations and other stakeholders are encouraged to provide written comments during this comment period to help refine the environmental analysis and clarify issues.

Written comments may be hand delivered, mailed, emailed or submitted through ePlanning. Please reference “American Potash Green River Project” when submitting comments. All comments must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MST on Dec. 18, 2023, to be considered.

Before including an address, phone number, email address or other personally identifiable information in any comments, be aware the entire comment, including personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. Requests to withhold personal identifying information from public review can be submitted, but the BLM cannot guarantee it will be able to do so.

The proposed wells are located within the Red Wash Potash Leasing Area, as designated by the 2016 Moab Master Leasing Plan. The Master Leasing Plan applies stringent reclamation requirements and sets limits on surface-disturbing activities. If approved, the drilling would be completed within two years, and the resulting holes would be plugged and abandoned with the disturbed area being reclaimed. Potash is frequently used in fertilizers to help support agricultural production.



  • Two months ago, the BLM finalized a travel plan that took much-needed steps to protect Labyrinth Canyon’s quiet soundscapes and stunning scenery. This proposal – affecting that very same landscape – would undo that progress and could serve as the beginning of large-scale, industrial development of the area.
  • Exploratory drilling alone would consume millions of gallons of Colorado River water—water that is simply not available due to the decades-long drought brought on by the climate crisis that has driven river levels to historic lows.
  • Does not adversely impact the Labyrinth Canyon area, including lands with wilderness characteristics (proposed by the public and/or identified by BLM).
  • Avoids important wildlife habitat including for bighorn sheep.
  • Does not impact the area’s outstanding opportunities for quiet recreation.
  • The four well pads and access roads will disturb 17 acres (of course, significantly more surface disturbance will occur if/when the project moves beyond this initial).
  • The project is within a “Known Potash Leasing Area” or KPLA. The KPLA was created by the 2016 Moab Master Leasing Plan. The KPLA designation means that the area is available for potash leasing and development and that it has a preference over oil-gas development, but this fact does not mean that extractive development is a foregone conclusion or that it takes precedence over other BLM uses for the land (conservation. recreation, etc.)
  • The BLM’s draft environmental assessment (EA) explains that each well will use 4 million gallons of water to drill (16 million gallons total) – this is just for drilling the core holes. The amount of water that would be used if this project actually goes to full development is staggering – for example, the Intrepid Potash mine uses 350 million gallons per year of Colorado River water.
  • Potash is not a “critical” mineral. This Federal Register page contains the most recent list of minerals deemed to be “critical” by the Federal government. The 2021 proposed draft of this list explains in more detail why potash and phosphate are not included.
  • The A1 Lithium project, which proposes drilling lithium test wells (not full development), will use 24,190 gallons of water for drilling operations. While not an insignificant amount of water, it is fairly modest when compared to other extraction schemes. See A1 Lithium EA at p. 36.
  • For oil and gas the Moab Master Leasing Plan (MLP) states: "the water needs of oil and gas are far less than potash development." It then explains that a typical oil-gas well "drilled to the primary target formation would involve about 294,000 gallons of water." See MLP Chapter 4 at p. 4-136.
  • In contrast, this proposal (American Potash EA) states that the drilling of each well will consume 2.9 to 3.7 million gallons of water. See American Potash EA at p. 44). With four exploratory wells, that's a total of 11.6 to 14.8 million gallons of water.
  • Additionally, regarding potash, the Moab MLP explains that "[w]ater consumption associated with solar evaporation processing operations is estimated at 5,000 gallons per ton of potash production for a total of about 2 billion gallons per year."(MLP at 4-51). So, while the drilling of the test wells appears to have a significantly higher water consumption than other extractive projects, the second stage--evaporation ponds--is where the water use is truly staggering.
  • NOTE: the 2 billion gallons is for the entire MLP planning area, not just this one project. the American Potash EA explains that the Intrepid Potash mine uses 350 million gallons per year of Colorado River water.


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