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

 

Talking to Transcanada on Twitter about Tar Sands

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | April 17, 2014

Act now to save the planet: IPCC report

Blog entry by mhudema | April 16, 2014 1 comment

The latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was released on Sunday.  The report, perhaps the most hopeful of IPCC reports to date, had one clear message – we can save the planet but only if we start acting now. ...

Goliath, meet David: Kitimat votes against Enbridge’s Tarsands Pipeline

Blog entry by mhudema | April 13, 2014

Yesterday something amazing happened. For the past few weeks Enbridge, a massive pipeline company with $446 million in earnings (2013), has been pouring money into the tiny port side community of Kitimat, BC to try to convince...

Greenpeace questions whether links between the Conservative Party and Ethical Oil...

Feature story | April 8, 2014 at 11:00

It’s one thing to cooperate – it’s another thing entirely to collude in order to get around laws that help make our democracy work.

Big Oil has no place in Alberta’s schools

Blog entry by mhudema | April 3, 2014

I remember my grade two school teacher Mrs. Chalmers. She was an amazing educator.  While she didn’t like my unfinished art project, she made me want to learn about our connection to the natural world and taught me about the importance...

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