Tar Sands Solutions Network

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Tar Sands Free

It's becoming widely known around the world that oil from Canada's tar sands is more destructive, polluting, and carbon intensive than nearly all other energy sources.

That's why the European Union, as well as a growing number of North American municipal governments and responsible corporations have rejected tar sands oil from their fuel supplies. A parallel campaign on Fossil Fuel Divestment recruits progressive universities, churches, and other major institutions to dump their investments in oil companies whose core business model will lead to the destruction of our climate.

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Companies, municipalities, & regions commit to no tar sands in their fuel supply
Key Problems:
- Tar sands oil is significantly dirtier than alternatives
- Many companies, cities and states and the entire European Union are taking action to reduce emissions 
Current Status:
19 global corporations, 30 municipalities, and the EU have adopted policies unfavourable to tar sands

Cities and municipalities across North America and Europe are taking climate action by refusing to purchase tar sands fuel. Bellingham, Washington adopted new guidelines to minimize fuel purchasing from refineries taking feed stock from Canada’s tar sands. Building on the Bellingham model, dozens of New England towns and municipalities have also committed to going Tar Sands Free.

Twenty-nine towns and cities in Vermont, including Burlington, the state’s largest city, passed resolutions opposing the transportation of tar sands crude through “The Green Mountain State” and committing to eliminating the use of tar sands-derived fuels in the area. Three towns in Maine – Bethel, Casco and Waterford – have passed similar resolutions, and the list grows every month.

The business community also has joined the opposition to Canada’s dirty tar sands fuels. So far nearly twenty large businesses have publicly announced actions they have taken to reduce the environmental and social impacts of fossil-fueled transportation. Popular brands including Avon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Chiquita, eBay, Trader Joes, Walgreens and Whole Foods are all committed to reducing their use of dirty fuels like tar sands in their operations.

If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. Institutions and governments that purport to serve the public good should not invest in, and profit from, from the extraction, production and consumption of fossil fuels. Just 200 publicly-traded companies hold the vast majority of the world’s proven coal, oil and gas reserves. 350.org’s Fossil Free campaign has inspired hundreds of campaigns all over the world to encourage universities, religious institutions, and city and municipal governments to reject tar sands oil as a responsible source of energy and jettison their investments in tar sands companies.

People understand this kind of eco-economic logic. Institutions of higher education are leading the way. Student-led campaigns at hundreds of universities and colleges are now demanding that their institutions stop investing in the fossil fuel industry, especially tar sands companies. It’s working. Four colleges – College of the Atlantic, Hampshire, Sterling and Unity – have already committed to divesting all fossil fuel-derived stocks from their portfolios, and dozens of other universities are actively considering ditching their fossil fuel stocks.

It’s not just universities. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, for instance, has directed his staff not to invest the city’s $1.4 billion operating fund in fossil fuel companies, and has asked the governing board to do likewise for the city’s pension fund. The Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG), an international conservation organization whose mission is to save threatened species by making conservation efforts more effective, decided to divest its investment portfolio of fossil fuel companies so it can “serve as a model and provide an invitation to the zoo and aquarium community to join us in this movement. The Sante Fe Art Institute and the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee have followed suit.

The overwhelming commitment to avoiding tar sands-related investment vehicles and products is a welcome sign that society is beginning to understand that the risks associated with tar sands development are incompatible with a clean energy economy and a sustainable future that prevents the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Tar Sands Free Updates & Resources

Tar sands vote in Maine shows communities can stand up for wildlife and win big

July 22nd 2014

Blog Post: The people of South Portland, Maine, made historic news last night. The City Council passed an ordinance that prevents the Portland Pipe Line Corporation or others from building the large, polluting smokestacks necessary to load any form of tar sands crude oil onto tankers in its beautiful coastal port. NWF asked the Natural Resources Council of Maine's Clean Energy Director, Dylan Voorhees, what this vote means.

VICTORY: South Portland passes tar sands ordinance 6 votes to 1


July 22nd 2014

Blog Post: In an historic vote, the South Portland City Council tonight voted 6-1 to pass the Clear Skies Ordinance to protect the city from a tar sands crude oil terminal. “We may be a small city, but, boy, we’ve done a big thing tonight! The Clear Skies Ordinance protects our air, our coast, and our community,” said Mary-Jane Ferrier, spokesperson for Protect South Portland. “We are absolutely thrilled, relieved, and exhausted. Of course, we know it may not be over yet, and we’re committed to defend this victory from oil industry attacks.”

Tar sands battleground: South Portland

John Richardson | Portland Press Herald - July 20th 2014

Press Clipping: The battle of South Portland’s residents to keep tar sands crude out of their community shows that what’s happening in this Maine city is just one part of an ongoing fight over Canada’s plans to expand tar sands production in Alberta.

Sierra Club makes it easier for corporate fleets to go tar-sands free

Michael Marx, Beyond Oil Campaign Director | Sierra Club - May 1st 2014

Blog Post: Today the Sierra Club released its new Tar Sands Fuel in Corporate Fleets report outlining steps that corporations can take to avoid fuels derived from tar sands crude in their company's cars and trucks. The report identifies 39 U.S. oil refineries that do not process tar sands crude into gasoline and diesel fuel. The Sierra Club is asking companies to avoid whenever possible fuel derived from the high-carbon, highly polluting Alberta tar sands.

Vermont towns pass resolutions opposing tar sands

Editors | Tar Sands Solutions Network - March 5th 2014

Press Clipping: At Town Meeting 2014, Vermonters again expressed wide concern over the possibility of toxic tar sands being transported through an aging pipeline in the Northeast Kingdom or by other means. As of Tuesday night, residents of at least 12 towns – some of them crossed by the 60-year-old pipeline, others nearby – reported that they had passed resolutions expressing concerns and calling for careful environmental review of any proposal regarding tar sands.

Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church votes to divest from fossil fuel companies


Christine | 350orbust.com - February 25th 2014

Blog Post: The congregation of Trinity-St Paul’s United Church in Toronto voted unanimously on Sunday at its Annual General Meeting to lend its voice to the fast-growing divestment movement, and to ensure that its own funds are not invested in any of the world’s 200 largest fossil fuel companies. The vote confirms a long-standing commitment to climate justice, which has been a key priority of the congregation for the past decade.

Students at UBC, SFU, and UVic vote for endowment funds to divest from fossil fuels

Travis Lupick | Georgia Straight - February 5th 2014

Press Clipping: Students at two of the Lower Mainland’s largest universities took steps to see those institutions divest themselves of financial interests in the fossil-fuel industry. Now, their counterparts at the University of Victoria have followed suit. University of British Columbia students voted for the Alma Mater Society to urge the administration to shift money out of companies that harm the environment via contributions to climate change. According to Molly Henry, campaign manager for UBCC350, the group credited with getting the question to a referendum, the vote was 77 percent in favour of divestment.

UBC Students to Vote on Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies

January 29th 2014

Blog Post: Students at the University of British Columbia are voting this week to make a decision on whether or not to support a campaign to divest the Universityʼs holdings in fossil fuel companies. The campaign, run by the group UBCC350, already garnered over 1,200 signatures supporting the campaign and placing the question on divestment onto the ballot in this yearʼs AMS elections. “UBC is striving to be a world leader in sustainability, but our current investments are not in line with our values,” said Molly Henry, Divest UBC Campaign Director. “Weʼre investing tens of millions of dollars in fossil fuel companies, making the carbon footprint of our investments nine times that of UBC itself.”