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

 

It's time Alberta took off its tar sands blinders and embraced the power of the sun

Blog entry by mhudema | July 21, 2014

Yesterday I was on a roof installing solar panels. It was truly amazing to see each solar panel going up, carefully fastening it down, and knowing that when it was all done, the house I was on would be powered by sun. The...

The future is sunny, my friend: Solar success in Canada's North

Blog entry by mhudema | July 18, 2014

I’m in day three of the solar design and installation course I’ve been taking through Gridworks Energy and Randall Benson. The course has been amazing so far as I have been learning about the incredible potential that the sun...

A first hand look at the beauty and power of Solar

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | July 16, 2014

For years, I have been advocating the benefits of solar and other renewables. But while I’ve studied and talked to many renewable energy producers and workers, I never actually got my solar hands dirty (or clean). Well, today that...

The 5th annual tarsands healing walk: together we will heal the land and stop the...

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | June 29, 2014

It was a walk of prayer and healing. It was a walk to heal the land, a walk to heal ourselves and a walk to give the earth the strength to resist the damage that is being done to it. Once a year for the past 5-years we have...

Dear future Alberta Premier: the time to start transitioning to renewables is now.

Blog entry by mhudema | June 25, 2014

A few days ago I wrote an op/ed for the Edmonton Journal. You can read it here : After writing it I felt I left a few things out. I’ve decided to revamp it a little and post the full version. Please read and share.   In...

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