SALT LAKE CITY -- Opponents of the first U.S. commercial oil sands operation are challenging a key approval from Utah regulators.
The Moab-based environmental group Living Rivers is getting a hearing before a state agency to challenge a water discharge permit.
Living Rivers argues tar sands mining will wash toxins into groundwater.
An administrative judge for the Utah Division of Water Quality will start two days of hearings at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
U.S. Oil Sands Inc. plans to start digging a 62-acre pit this summer in an area of eastern Utah that contains gooey bitumen, a tar-like form of petroleum.
The company says it will produce 2,000 barrels of oil a day by next year, in the start of what could grow into a much larger operation.
Wednesday's hearing will be broadcast at http://www.deq.utah.gov/Online--Services/deqwebcasts.htm .