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

 

Dirty Diplomacy: What happens when we let oil run our government

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | March 16, 2012

A new report, Dirty Diplomacy: The Canadian Government’s Global Push to Sell the Tar Sands , details how the Harper government is teaming up with the big oil companies to attack climate legislation in the US and Europe, while ...

Tar Sands Fever Brings on Dutch Disease

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | March 6, 2012

Last week’s exchange between Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has put the debate over the “ Dutch Disease ” on the national agenda. The name was coined by the Economist magazine based on what...

Kinder Morgan Canada President Ian Anderson greeted by anti-tarsands protest in Vancouver

Blog entry by Christine Leclerc | February 29, 2012

Greenpeace arrived at Vancouver's Convention Centre with The Wilderness Committee and ForestEthics at 10:30 a.m. last Friday to greet Kinder Morgan President Ian Anderson as he delivered a keynote speech at the Chamber of Shipping's...

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...

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