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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

Bears and deer die at oil sands sites

Government documents show that animals other than ducks have died at Alberta's oil sands sites.

Documents obtained by Greenpeace, under freedom of information legislation, show that at least 164 other animals died during oil sands operations between 2000 and 2008.

Those animals included 27 bears, 67 deer, 31 foxes and 21 coyotes.

Possible reasons for the deaths are listed as drowning, oil from tailings, animals hitting structure or vehicles, electrocution, and euthanasia of problem wildlife.

Moose, beavers and wolves also died, although the cause of death isn't specified.

The documents cover Syncrude, Shell and Suncor operations.

Additional Excerpt:

Environmental groups say this is more proof that it's time to transition to a cleaner energy source.... Read more »

Alberta FOIP finds more than ducks killed on tar sands operations

8 April 2010 (Edmonton) — An information request has forced the Alberta government to reveal that in addition to the infamous dead ducks, 164 animals, including 27 bears, were killed between 2000 and 2008 on operations in the Alberta tar sands.

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) request was filed by independent scientist Kevin Timoney and sought material from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD). The disclosed SRD information covers only three oil companies and shows reported deaths of 27 black bears, 67 deer, 31 red fox, 21 coyote, as well as moose, muskrats, beavers, voles, martens, wolves, and bats.
... Read more »

Ottawa revises rules of environmental review regime

The Harper government is rewriting the rules of environmental assessments, handing the Environment Ministry the power to minimize reviews of projects from open-pit mines to municipal construction along with other changes that critics claim will “gut” the environmental review process.

Suggestions of change to the environmental review regime were contained in the March federal budget, but the extent of the changes came to light with the release of the bill that implements financial aspects of the government’s new economic measures. Placing the reforms inside a budget bill forces the opposition parties to either accept them or bring down the minority government.

Additional Excerpt:

Now, with the federal government stepping aside from many assessments, a larger number will be left in provincial hands.... Read more »

Federal Tories gut environmental assessments with sneaky changes: critics

OTTAWA - Environmental groups and opposition politicians say the federal Conservatives are trying to gut environmental assessment laws by sneaking in new rules in budget legislation.

"This is a big step backward about 20 years," John Bennett of the Sierra Club said Wednesday.

Budget legislation introduced in the House this week would give the environment minister the power to divide a large project up into smaller components for the purpose of studying its environmental impact.

"The minister may ... determine that the scope of the project in relation to which an environmental assessment is to be conducted is limited to one or more components of that project," says the legislation.... Read more »

Bullying Canada’s Environment

OTTAWA--The federal government is afraid to deal with the environment honestly and in the open. The budget implementation bill introduced Monday contains changes to the Environmental Assessment Act that have nothing to do with the 2010 budget. The changes fly in the face of the recent Supreme Court decision on the Red Chris mine and validate Sierra Club Canada’s decision to challenge the regulatory changes made in last year’s budget.

"If these changes are just, then why not deal with them on their own instead of using an election threat to steal environmental protection from Canadians," said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada.
... Read more »

            

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