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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

Alberta government takes oilpatch education blitz to schools

CALGARY - The Stelmach government plans on taking its energy and environment education blitz to the classroom to inform Alberta youths on the importance of the oilpatch and value of expensive carbon capture and storage technology.

The initiatives were identified in last week's provincial budget documents that also revealed a 12 per cent boost to Energy Department spending and a five per cent cut to Alberta Environment, sparking questions about the government's priorities.... Read more »

You say “special information feature,” we say “ad”

Speaking of oil sands critics, the Sierra Club of Canada is taking Shell and CanWest to task for a series of print and online ads it says violate advertising standards. The full-page ad contains a headline, photos and a feel-good story describing what Shell has done to help the environment.

Sierra Club files complaint over unlabelled Canwest oilsands ad features

An environmental group has filed an official complaint over ad features run by some newspapers in Canada's largest media chain, saying they blur the lines between journalism and advertising.

The Sierra Club of Canada alleges in its complaint to Advertising Standards Canada that Canwest tried to disguise the fact that Shell Canada paid for articles on the oilsands that ran in several of the chain's major dailies.

"They should be marked clearly that they are advertising," Sierra Club director John Bennett said Thursday. "They appear to be newspaper stories."

Stories paid for by advertisers are common in newspapers and normally appear under the heading "advertising features."

The Canwest series, headlined New Energy Future, was entitled "a special information feature, in partnership with Shell Canada." That phrase is in print three millimetres high.

Additonal Excerpt:... Read more »

Shell advertorials spurn complaint to Ad Standards Council

Sierra Club Canada has filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) against Shell Canada and Canwest, claiming several of the latter's newspapers have been running advertising disguised as news content.

The complaint, filed Wednesday, concerns the New Energy Future series, which ran with the words "in partnership with Shell Canada" in several Canwest regional papers and its nationally distributed National Post.

Additonal Excerpt:

Sierra Club, an Ottawa-based environmental organization that has being trying to halt the oil sand's expansion, initially brought its concerns to the Canwest-owned Ottawa Citizen. The series was running in the paper's front section and were attributed to Brian Burton, who wrote the pieces as a paid employee of Shell Canada.... Read more »

Canwest accused of unethical ads

An environmental group is accusing Canwest Global Communications of blurring the lines between journalism and propaganda with its six-week ad feature on climate change.

The Sierra Club of Canada has filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada, saying the full-page ads violate the ad regulator’s ethical rule: “No advertisement shall be presented in a format or style which conceals its intent.”

Additonal Excerpt:

In partnership with Shell Canada, one piece is headlined: “Climate change: a reality check,” and is accompanied by a “myth buster” fact box.... Read more »


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