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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

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

 

Podcast: Who's emptying Canada's lakes? Coping with tricky party convos

Blog entry by Mary Ambrose | December 1, 2014 1 comment

There’s an environment myth which claims  that  Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources from the 1960s to the 80s apparently said, that rather than discovering oil, he wish his country had found water. ...

One amazing week in the fight against the tar sands.

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | November 27, 2014 5 comments

Updated: In the fight against the tar sands there are good weeks and bad weeks and then there are weeks like this one where you can’t help but feel that we might just win. This week on both sides of the country tar sands pipeline...

From Burnaby Mountain to our homelands in the Tar Sands

Blog entry by Melina Laboucan-Massimo | November 26, 2014 2 comments

I’ve been spending a lot of time up on Burnaby Mountain, just outside Vancouver, where 89 people have been arrested as part of the growing grassroots opposition to a tar sands pipeline. It is inspiring to see the Coast Salish peoples...

Leaked documents show TransCanada planning “dirty tricks” campaign to support Energy...

Feature story | November 18, 2014 at 0:00

Having a vigorous debate about pipelines and Canada’s energy future is something Greenpeace endorses – but what happens when one side of the debate creates fake groups to make it seem like they have more people on their side than they really do?

35 Groups Petition Alberta Premier to Transition to Solar, Wind

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | November 7, 2014

Just yesterday, thirty-five groups, including landowners, First Nations and environmental organizations wrote to Alberta Premier Jim Prentice demanding the province start transitioning to renewables.  The letter comes just days...

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