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Tar sands

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

Greenpeace is calling the Canadian government to stop the expansion of 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 region. Meanwhile, the thousands of workers brought in by oil companies face the boom and bust cycles of the oil economy rollercoaster.

Tar sands companies want to build new pipelines so that they can expand output in the tar sands. These pipelines would threaten thousands of rivers and streams across the country. The increased tanker traffic required to carry this oil would threaten our coastlines. Oil spills would devastate communities and existing livelihoods that depend on a health environment, while the greenhouse gas emissions from producing and burning the oil would fuel climate change.

We have better alternatives.  

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 and expose the investment risks associated with tar sands development.
  • Working with impacted communities: We reach out to landowners and First Nations affected by the tar sands amplify their voices and stand in solidarity with them.

The latest updates

 

Canadians Against Keystone: ‘God keep our land, glorious and free’

Blog entry by Marla Wach | February 25, 2013 1 comment

Never did I think that I'd be raising my fist in the air to protest the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline in Washington DC, but on February 17 2013, I did just that. On February 15th, I and 9 other Torontonians took off to support the...

Leaked Arctic Council oil spill agreement weak and puts Canadians at risk

Feature story | February 4, 2013 at 7:00

On the eve of the Arctic Council environment ministers' meeting in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, a leaked copy of the Council’s oil spill response agreement entitled, “Co-operation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic” reveals...

Idle No More in the Tar Sands

Blog entry by Melina Laboucan-Massimo | January 15, 2013 2 comments

The following is the text of speech I gave at the Idle No More rally in Edmonton on January 11: Tansi ~ Niya Melina Miyowapan Laboucan-Massimo. Niya Nehiyaw. Kinaskomtinowow. My name is Melina Mewapan Laboucan-Massimo. I am a...

Alberta's pipeline review: make it about safety, not just PR

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | December 10, 2012

Alberta’s Energy Minister Ken Hughes is in damage control mode after published reports alleged that his review of pipeline safety in Alberta has been overly influenced by the very people under investigation. The Minister announced...

Greenpeace takes the federal government to court (again).

Blog entry by Charles Latimer - Oceans Campaign | November 5, 2012 2 comments

After a legal victory earlier this year for B.C.’s resident orcas, Greenpeace is once again looking to the courts to force the protection of endangered and threatened species in Canada. This fall, Ecojustice , on behalf of five...

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