Tar Sands Oil “Development”
Tars sands are a mixture of sand, clay, water, and a dark, dense, smelly, extremely viscous form of petroleum technically named bitumen but colloquially referred to as tar. Hence the name, tar sands. In order to use tar sands "oil," it needs to be mined or forced via steam-injection from the ground, separated from the sand, clay and water, and then refined. Thus, unlike conventional oil, tar sands oil requires massive quantities of natural gas (to power the extraction process) and water (which is then contaminated). The process used to be considered too costly but as the world's conventional oil supplies are depleted, "developers" are increasingly turning to tar sands to fill our oil needs.
Alberta, Canada's tar sands sit below one of the world's largest remaining arboreal forests, near the breeding grounds of endangered birds, in an area the size of the state of Florida or the country of England. Even the industry admits that the land will never recover from the strip mining and/or steam-injection extraction process. Tar sands "development" uses more water than city of 2 million people. The contaminated waste water is stored in artificial ponds so huge that they can be seen from space, and leaks poison surrounding drinking water. In 2007, tar sands "development" used 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Much of that natural gas was derived via fracking, which, in some instances, threatens ground water. Tar sands "development" generates 36 million tons of CO2 per day, as much green house per day as 1.3 million cars. If the Keystone XL pipeline is built, these numbers will grow exponentially larger.
"The cultural heritage, land, ecosystems and human health of First Nation communities including the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Fort McMurray First Nation, Fort McKay Cree Nation, Beaver Lake Cree First Nation Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, and the Metis, are being sacrificed for oil money in what has been termed a 'slow industrial genocide.' Infrastructure projects linked to the tar sands expansion such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline, threaten First Nation communities in British Columbia, Canada and American Indian communities throughout the United States. Community resistance is growing and Indigenous peoples throughout North America have mounted substantive challenges to tar sands expansion."
—from Indigenous Environmental Network Tar Sands Campaign
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Last updated on Wednesday, February 6, 2013.
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