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

 

Over fifty groups call for tougher oil transportation safety rules

Feature story | July 22, 2013 at 7:00

In the wake of the Lac-Mégantic disaster and the numerous recent oil spills, over 50 organizations from across Canada are calling on Prime Minister Harper to improve the safety of Canada’s oil transportation system. The groups represent...

Walking through the Tar Sands to Heal the Land and the Heart

Blog entry by Melina Laboucan-Massimo | July 19, 2013

This year’s 4 th Annual Healing Walk was an amazing success. It brought people together from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds to walk in prayer for the Healing of the land and its people.  Protecting the Sacred One...

Communities stepping up to protect the environment

Blog entry by Stephanie Goodwin | July 12, 2013

Local communities are once again on the front lines of efforts to keep our west coast pristine.  Save Howe Sound is a local group of citizens who keep an eye on the world class beauty Howe Sound. They are promoting awareness of the...

Shell tar sands project would harm land, water and First Nation rights but review...

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | July 10, 2013 2 comments

Shell tar sands project would harm land, water and First Nation rights but review panel rubber stamps it anyway Late yesterday, while the nation was still reeling from the Lac Megantic tragedy, the Joint Review Panel announced its ...

Lac-Megantic train disaster - Harper government ignoring warnings on oil transport

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | July 8, 2013 3 comments

***I ndividuals wishing to donate to the Red Cross can call 1-800-418-1111 or go to the Red Cross website at www.redcross.ca or text REDCROSSQC to 30333 to make a $5 donation.*** As the tragedy in the Quebec community of Lac...

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