Tar sands tailing pond, Fort McMurray, Alberta

The Facts – Canada's tar sands are the newest – and dirtiest — frontier of oil production

The price we all pay for this unconventional oil is too high to bear. The development of the tar sands is being driven by the spiraling price of oil, which means enormous profits for oil companies. But pursuing those profits in the tar sands requires everyone else to pay a high price characterized by the loss of investment in cleaner energy, the intensity of environmental impacts in the Boreal forest and the significant worsening of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Tar sands and public policy:

  • 80% of British Columbians across all political spectrums support an oil tanker ban for Canada’s Pacific North Coast
  • Nine Coastal First Nations of British Columbia have declared a tanker ban in their traditional territories
  • Municipal governments and major political parties support keeping tankers off the coast. Yet the Current Conservative government refuses to formally protect it

Facts about the largest fossil fuel projects on Earth, Canada's tar sands:

  • Tar sands are one of the world’s dirtiest energy project. Producing one barrel of tar sands oil generates three to five times the global warming emissions that producing the same amount of conventional oil would
  • Tar sands destruction is growing. If expansion is not sharply curtailed, toxic tar sands operations will expand throughout an area the size of Florida
  • Tar sands impacts are getting worse. The Canadian government predicts that greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands will more than triple in the next decade
  • Tar sands threaten community health. Downwind and downstream of the tar sands in Alberta, and near US refineries using and pipelines carrying tar sands oil, communities are exposed to carcinogenic chemicals like benzene and toluene, plus heavy metals, like mercury and lead
  • Tar sands are wasteful. Processing tar sands sludge requires enough natural gas in one day to heat three million homes
  • Tar sands are destroying biodiversity. Threatened woodland caribou have declined by nearly 50% over the past 10 years in the tar sands region
  • Toxic waste from the tar sands is killing our birds. Certain bird species have already declined by as much as 80% in areas heavily affected by tar sands development. Not to mention, tar sands have killed hundreds of water fowl who land on tailing ponds1
  • Tar sands are exhausting our fresh water. Every day three million barrels of drinking water are lost to the production of tar sands oil
  • Tar sands spew toxic waste. The tar sands' toxic lakes grow by 1.8 billion litres each day, and are leaking dangerous chemicals into the nearby soil and water


1. March 2, 2010. Images show dead ducks in Syncrude pond. CBC News. Original URL.

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