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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.

Latest Posts

U.S. retailers' oilsands boycott sparks Calgary anger

CALGARY - Oilsands operations in Alberta suffered another public relations blow after two major U.S. retailers announced they were shunning bitumen-derived fuels in favour of greener gasoline for their fleets.

That has irate Canadians calling on people to shun them back, including one Calgarian who says he'll fight the bitumen ban with his wallet.

Additional Excerpt:

Also on Wednesday, Sierra Club Canada filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada alleging Shell Canada and Canwest violated the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards by not clearly marking several full-page Shell advertisements as ads.

The six-part series on climate change running in Canwest publications such as the Calgary Herald lacked proper disclaimers, the environmental organization said.... Read more »

Shell Caught Misleading the Public Again…

OTTAWA--Shell's disguised advertising campaign in Canada appears to be part of a global campaign to misinform the public and make tar sands operations appear squeaky clean and sustainable. A similar 2008 ad which ran in the United Kingdom resulted in a complaint by the World Wildlife Fund and was chastised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

"Shell was caught misleading the public in the United Kingdom and agreed not to do it again, but barely a year later the company is trying it in Canada," said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. "At least in the UK Shell didn't try to disguise its ad as news."... Read more »

Shell Canada’s Disguised Advertising Techniques Can’t Hide the Truth about the Tar Sands

OTTAWA--Sierra Club Canada filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada today alleging Shell Canada and Canwest have violated the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. Over the last three weeks, Canwest has run a series of full page features described as, "A six-week Canwest special information feature on climate change, in partnership with Shell Canada." Sierra Club Canada was at first confused by the one-sided nature of the "information" and contacted the Ottawa Citizen only to find out the “features” were in fact full-page advertisements.

"As a former reporter and ad sales person I was confused by these Shell ads. I could not tell they were ads. They looked and read like editorial content," said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada.... Read more »

Feds cutting corners on environmental assessments: Supreme Court

The federal government has been undermining its own environmental review process, according to a Supreme Court of Canada decision released Thursday that’s expected to affect future environmental assessments on resource development projects across the country.

... Read more »

A logical target

A new study says that Alberta's oilsands should not be singled out as the villain responsible for Canada's poor record on climate change.  Yes, there has been finger-pointing and targeting of the tar sands in the public dialogue on climate change, and for good reason.... Read more »


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