Canada’s tar sands are the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, and threaten an area of boreal forest the size of Florida. We need real action to fight pollution and the climate crisis. It’s time for our governments to phase out the tar sands.
All Canadians are impacted by the tar sands, regardless of where you live in the country. If you live downstream, your water is being polluted with toxins, and your fish and wildlife may be dangerous to eat. In Saskatchewan, you are impacted by acid rain caused by tar sands pollution. In BC, oil supertankers are plying your shoreline carrying tar sands oil, and the Gateway Pipeline proposal would span northern BC, crossing about a thousand rivers and streams, and leaving them at risk to toxic spills, breaches and ruptures. In Ontario, you are exposed to harmful emissions from the refining of tar sands oil. Most importantly, no matter where you live in Canada, your desire to tackle the global climate crisis is being held hostage to the tar sands.
Instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Canada is quickly increasing them, and fully half of that emissions growth is projected to come from the tar sands. Additionally, because Canada’s elected officials refuse to clamp down on tar sands operators, they also refuse to clamp down on other greenhouse gas producing industry across Canada for fear of a double standard.
But while Canadians are still beleaguered with political complicity in tar sands pollution, looking south of the border, there are signs that dirty tar sands oil may no longer be wanted.
In 2008, American decision-makers were only too glad to fuel their cars with Canada’s tar sands oil, despite all evidence that this was perilously fueling the climate crisis. However, when President Barack Obama announced during his victory speech that “change has come to America”, people around the world who are concerned about climate change had reason to be optimistic. Since then, Canadian citizens concerned about the damage wrought by the tar sands have taken heart with Obama’s position on ending the use of dirty fossil fuels, starting with the dirtiest ones such as tar sands oil.
Despite all this, here in Canada, our federal and provincial governments are still not dealing with the tremendous negative impacts of the tar sands.
Google Map of Canada's Tar Sands
Areas shown in red on map are existing tar sands extraction projects, while areas in yellow show areas with tar sands extraction permits and leases. Note that the areas depicted on map are at a fairly coarse scale and are not very accurate if you zoom in too much.
View Canada's Tar Sands in a larger map