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The Dirty Truth about Canada’s Tar Sands Industry

Canada’s Tar Sands are located in the Northern half of the province of Alberta along with some deposits in neighbouring Saskatchewan. Covering a landmass of 140,200 km2, or 54,132 square miles, the deposits span a region the size of the State of New York or 2.5 times the size of Nova Scotia. The tar sands are located in the heart of Canada’s Boreal Forest, a nearly continuous belt of coniferous trees that extends across the country. Home to a diversity of plant and animal species the region is commonly referred to as “the lungs of the planet,” as it is one of the largest carbon storehouse in the world, second only to the Amazon rainforest. The region contains extensive wetlands, including bogs, peatlands and fens. The tar sands region of the boreal forest is the traditional territory of the Dene, Cree and Métis Indigenous people. At an estimated 170 billion barrels, Canada’s tar sands have put the country on the global oil map, making Canada 2nd only to Saudi Arabia for proven crude oil reserves. Since commencement of oil sands extraction, nearly 40 years ago, extraction of the resource has climbed steadily to the 1.31 million barrels per day in 2008. This figure is expected to nearly triple by 2018. Tar Sands oil is destined for the U.S. In 2008, Alberta exported 1.51 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil to the U.S., supplying 15% of U.S. crude oil imports, or 8% of U.S. oil demand. As of June 2009, there were approximately 5,012 oil sands (mineral rights) agreements with the Province totaling approximately 82,542 km2 (31,870 square miles). This equates to an area that is nearly the size of the state of South Carolina. Close to 41% of possible tar sands areas are still available for leasing.

Our Demands:

It is no exaggeration to call the tar sands one of the most destructive industrial projects in the world. People, animals and the land are dying as we extract the dirty tar sands oil to feed our North American appetite for oil. WE NEED YOUR HELP! CANADIANS MUST NOW, MORE THAN EVER, UNITE TOGETHER AND DEMAND AN END TO TAR SANDS INJUSTICES TODAY! • The Tar Sands must be included in a national cap on greenhouse gas emissions. • The Tar Sands must be subjected to precautionary water quality standards aimed to stop and eliminate elevating levels of Mercury, Arsenic, PAHs and other carcinogenic toxins. • Treaty Rights must be honoured and upheld. First Nations and Métis Communities must be meaningfully consulted and accommodated before any further development decisions are approved. • We are calling for the Canadian and Albertan governments to take the first step and cease new oil sands approvals and lease sales. The time is now to stop the uncontrolled oil sands development and deal with the environmental and social concerns that it has created. • We furthermore urge our Governments to develop an energy policy, which encourages conservation and promotes the use of safe, clean, and renewable energy sources. Together, we can move our Canada beyond the current dirty oil image. It’s time.

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Responding to the report, Sierra Club Canada director John Bennett said this portrayal is aligned with officials’ attempts to silence environmental groups opposed to major energy projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline.

“We are one of the few segments of Canadian society that has continually stood up to the present Conservative government and been able to be effective at raising issues," said Bennett.... Read more »

We need regulators, not cheerleaders

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Fired environmentalist sees conspiracy

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Tides Canada is a major social-policy and environmental organization tackling poverty, climate change and social justice issues. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is a former board member.

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"Scary time" for Canada

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Interests without borders

The Harper government says it doesn’t want foreign influence on opposition to a proposed oil pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coast. The PM and his Environment Minister, Joe Oliver, say American radicals are funneling money into Canadian environmental branches to unfairly challenge the project at National Energy Board hearings that began Tuesday.

Canada pursues trade agreements with countries the world over, allowing foreign interests a say in how we do business. Northern Ontarians are familiar with the success of the American lumber lobby in thwarting forest product sales from this region.

Canada allows foreign interests to take over Canadian companies. In the case of Electro-Motive, after loaning millions to facilitate the takeover, Canada sits mute while U.S. owner Caterpillar locks out workers in London, Ont., while apparently preparing to move the operation to a U.S. plant.
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