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

 

Canada and Australia: working together to thwart action on climate

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | June 10, 2014 2 comments

Just when I think the Canadian government can’t embarrass us anymore our Prime Minister opens his mouth again. Yesterday, Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Abbott from Australia spoke about climate change. (Please take all...

Pattison's Climate Double Standard: Chooses Denial Over Solutions

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | June 9, 2014 1 comment

A few years ago we tried to put up a billboard. The billboard said, “When there’s a huge solar spill. It’s just called a nice day. Green jobs, not more oil spills.” It wasn’t the raciest of billboards, in fact, some might call it...

Crime and little punishment: Alberta has long way to go to fix pipeline problems

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | June 4, 2014

Plains Midstream’s Rainbow pipeline spill was one of the largest spills in Alberta’s history. It lasted for over eight hours as Plains Midstream failed to diagnose the problem and attempted to restart their line three times, each time...

New VIDEO: Alberta’s kids don’t need a tar sands education.

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | June 3, 2014 2 comments

Please watch and share with your networks Alberta public education authorities have invited tar sands giants Syncrude, Suncor, and Cenovus to help draft ‘ Alberta’s future curriculum’  from kindergarten to grade 12.

Total blow to tar sands development: big victory for environment

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | May 30, 2014

Yesterday, the environment and communities directly affected by the tar sands won big! Total E&P, a major tar sands company, which is also a confirmed shipper for the proposed and now delayed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,...

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