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

 

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...

Building a solar future from the top of an oil derrick

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | November 4, 2014

Yesterday, 4 people including myself climbed the oil derrick that launched Western Canada’s oil boom over 60 years ago. We did it to send a very simple message: it’s time that we transitioned again this time away from dirty energy...

Putting Alberta on the road to renewables

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | October 28, 2014

Putting Alberta on the road to renewables The price of oil dropped again today with Goldman Sachs predicting that prices will continue to fall to $70 by 2015. Albertans know all too well the perils of the oil coaster...

Solar tour finds Albertans want their place in the sun

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | October 20, 2014 1 comment

This past week has been amazing.  Tell Alberta Premier Jim Prentice to Go Solar! Together, with journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk, Bold Nebraska supers tar Jane Kleeb and solar gurus Randall Benson and David...

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