Debate stirs over 1st major US tar sands mine

A debate is brewing in the rural hills of eastern Utah as a Canadian company eyes the region for new domestic oil supplies.

Alberta-based Earth Energy Resources Inc. aims to begin by mining roughly 62-acres to produce bitumen, a tar-like form of petroleum, from oil-soaked sands. Canada has been producing oil from its sands for years and is now the No. 1 foreign supplier of petroleum to America. The country's sprawling deposits are the second largest oil reserves in the world outside of Saudi Arabia. The operations have been blamed for increasing greenhouse gases and producing toxic waste.

The proposed Utah mine would be America's first commercial operation of its kind, and while the company says it can do it without polluting the land, environmentalists are mounting a challenge.