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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

 

One Keystone pipeline down, one Gateway pipeline to go

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | January 18, 2012 1 comment

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been told by industry and government insiders that while the expansion of the tar sands may be a terrible thing, there’s simply no way to stop it. Well, we’ve found a way. President Obama...

Hell hath no fury like a pipeline pusher scorned

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | January 13, 2012

If you want to understand why federal Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver is so hot under the collar, ignore the hype over “foreign funding” and look back at what happened at last year’s meeting of federal and provincial energy...

An open letter to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver

Blog entry by Christine Leclerc | January 10, 2012

Between 1999 and 2008 Enbridge pipelines spilled oil 610 times . That's more than one spill a week for nine years. Record numbers of people have registered as intervenors in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Joint Review Panel...

Why Harper’s Kyoto Pullout Is a Death Sentence for Many of World’s Most Vulnerable

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | December 13, 2011

For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, its an act of sabotage on our future. —Ian Fry, Tuvalu lead negotiator Yesterday I commented that the Harper government pulling out of Kyoto is essentially a death sentence on vulnerable...

Harper government Kyoto withdrawal issues death sentence to world's most vulnerable

Blog entry by Christine Leclerc | December 12, 2011

Environment Minister Peter Kent, just back from COP17 in Durban, has announced Canada's pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is a cornerstone of international climate negotiations and plays a key role in addressing the...

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