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

 

Tar Sands Healing Walk 2014

Image | June 27, 2014 at 12:00

For the fifth year, First Nations peoples, tar sands community members and environmental advocates will come together for a 20km walk through the tar sands. The walk is a chance to see tar sands destruction first hand, but more importantly to...

Vancouver "Wall of Women" against Tar Sands

Image | March 22, 2014 at 15:30

Women leaders from three Vancouver-area First Nations are joined by supporters in forming a "Wall of Women" opposing Kinder Morgan's Tar Sands pipeline expansion project. The group included Squamish First Nation leader Shamentsut Slhanay (Mandy...

“Why I take action” Jessie’s story

Video | October 16, 2013 at 18:01

One of the activists taking part in the protest at Kinder Morgan tar sands facility on October 16th, 2013 explains her motivation to take non-violent direct action and why she believes in peaceful protest.

Help Greenpeace stop the reckless expansion of the tar sands

Video | October 16, 2013 at 14:30

On October 16, 2013, Greenpeace activists block the docking facility at Kinder Morgan's pipeline terminal in Metro Vancouver, where tankers are loaded with tar sands oil. The Harper government is supporting Kinder Morgan's plan to build a new...

Tar Sands Greenwash: Buying Ads is Easy

Video | June 6, 2013 at 11:30

Help us laugh the Harper government's ad campaign to greenwash the tar sands right off the air by sharing with your friends and signing the petition at stopgreenwash.ca The Harper government currently plans to spend $16 million of...

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