Tar sands

Aerial view of Syncrude Aurora tar sands mine in the Boreal Forest north of Fort McMurray. © Greenpeace / Jiri Rezac

Greenpeace is calling on oil companies and the Canadian government to stop the tar sands and end the industrialization of a vast area of Indigenous territories, forests and wetlands in northern Alberta.

The tar sands are huge deposits of bitumen, a tar-like substance that’s turned into oil through complex and energy-intensive processes that cause widespread environmental damage. These processes pollute the Athabasca River, lace the air with toxins and convert farmland into wasteland. Large areas of the Boreal forest are clearcut to make way for development in the tar sands, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

Greenpeace is also concerned with the social and health costs of the tar sands. First Nations communities in the tar sands report unusually high levels of rare cancers and autoimmune diseases. Their traditional way of life is threatened. Substance abuse, suicide, gambling and family violence have increased in the tar sands. Meanwhile, the thousands of workers brought in by oil companies face a housing crisis in northern Alberta.

Enbridge Inc.'s tar sands tanker pipeline proposal threatens to allow a 30 per cent expansion in tar sands development. Enbridge's tar sands pipeline would span 1,170 kilometres from Hardisty, Alberta to Kitimat, in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. Over the past decade, Enbridge's own pipelines spilled an average of more than once a week. The pipeline would cross over 1,000 rivers and streams and the Rocky Mountains on the way to B.C.'s pristine coastline. The pipeline would bring more than 200 crude oil tankers through some of the world's most treacherous waters each year.

How Greenpeace works to stop the tar sands

  • Pressuring governments: The governments of Alberta and Canada actively promote tar sands development and ignore international commitments Canada has made to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Through direct action, we draw international attention to government climate crimes in the tar sands and demand change.
  • Educating shareholders: We meet with Canadian and international shareholders in oil companies and discuss the investment risks associated with the tar sands.
  • Working with impacted communities: We reach out to landowners and First Nations affected by the tar sands and stand in solidarity with them.

The latest updates

 

No Retreat, No Surrender: Protecting caribou is good for all of us

Blog entry by Melina Laboucan-Massimo | February 24, 2012

The research behind the headline “ Saving all of Alberta's caribou herds futile: study ” is, no doubt,  the product of years of frustration, but it brought to mind a quote from Winston Churchill: "I make no reflection on their  courage...

No Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card for the Tar Sands

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | February 21, 2012

I have to wonder if the people hailing the new study published in the scientific journal Nature (subscription required) as providing support for the tar sands industry have actually read it. The Commentary “The Alberta oil sands and...

Chasing down the truth of Harper’s “oil sands advocacy strategy”

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | January 30, 2012

I’ve spoken with a lot of politicians over the years, but I’ve never had one run away from me before. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, as it’s no secret that our federal Minister of Natural Resources doesn’t have a lot of time...

Federal government refuses to protect caribou

Blog entry by Catharine Grant, Forest Campaigner | January 27, 2012

Environment Minister Peter Kent is still refusing to issue an emergency order to protect Alberta’s woodland caribou, despite a court order last July asking him to in light of scientific evidence. Kent has suggested that the existing...

U.S. State Department: Keystone pipeline proponents inflated jobs number 20-fold

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | January 20, 2012

There was, understandably, a lot of coverage of the Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But very few people seem to have read the full “ Report to Congress ” filed by the U.S. State Department...

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