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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

Who's Next?

Sometimes you just don’t want to be right.

In the Sierra Club Canada national office we are busy preparing our 2011 annual report. As I go through my files from last year (wow – we certainly were busy) I came across an email that rattled me. It was the last email I sent to supporters in December. In it I outlined the disturbing developments we saw in 2011 and what I thought it all meant.

Much like watching troop movements across the frontier, I could see an impending invasion. The email, in fact, documented the beginnings of an all-out assault on environmental protection in Canada - and the protectors. We could see signs of it coming a couple of months earlier (I mused about it in my blog).... Read more »

Groups slam changes to environmental process

Groups are slamming the federal Conservative government's plan to speed up the environmental review process, suggesting it will become a rubber stamp that won't protect the health and safety of Canadians.

"This is about bulldozing things through over the objection of people or without thinking it through," the Sierra Club's John Bennett told CTV's Power Play.

Streamlining the environmental review process was a key plank in the Tories' first majority government budget, released Thursday.

But Bennett, the executive director of the environment watchdog, said the changes will result in weaker environmental assessments, as well as projects being approved without a full understanding of the social, economic and environmental impacts.

... Read more »

Budget: Canadians have no say in environmental laws

Media Release, March 29, 2012

OTTAWA- Canadians are less able to protect our water, air and land because of changes to environmental law outlined in today’s federal budget.

The key change, essentially speeding up environmental reviews of mega-projects, will greatly hurt the public's ability to participate in future processes.

“Environmental assessments need to be thorough, consultative and science-based.” said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. “Creating hard-time limits and rushing the process compromises all these things.”

The changes will result in weaker environmental assessments and projects being approved without a full understanding of the social, economic and environmental impacts they will have.

... Read more »

Green charities clash with Harper conservatives

OTTAWA -- The Conservatives have taken their battle with environmentalists to new levels of lunacy, some groups said Tuesday, after a Tory senator suggested they would accept funding from Al Qaeda.

"Let me ask you this, honourable senators: If environmentalists are willing to accept money from Martians, where would they draw the line on where they receive money from? Would they take money from Al Qaeda, the Hamas or the Taliban?," Senator Don Plett, the party's former president, asked in the Senate.

"It's jaw-droopingly bizarre," Devon Page, executive director of EcoJustice told The Huffington Post Canada late Tuesday.... Read more »

Albertan's On The Hook for Reclamation Debt

Media Comment

Following the Oilsands Reclamation Research News Conference at the University of Alberta, Sierra Club Prairie offers the below comment from Executive Director Chelsea Flook:

" This report provides strong independent scientific evidence that we need a moratorium on new oilsands leases in order to do some real accounting on trading carbon sinks for carbon time bombs. Industry and government claims of reclamation amounts to nothing more than greenwashing and the liabilities leave Albertan's on the hook for cleaning up after industry's reclamation debt. While the government stalls, 30 000 hectares of peat land have been lost. Companies have no obligation to restore or compensate for destroyed wetlands."


For further comment, please call Chelsea Flook at 780-722-1226... Read more »

            

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