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

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.”

South Portland passes moratorium on tar sands oil


Matt Byrne | Portland Press Herald - December 17th 2013

Press Clipping: By a 6-1 vote, the council approved a moratorium, effective until May 5, that bars the city from approving any project or development that includes loading oil sands onto ships in the city. The moratorium buys time for city officials to develop a permanent ordinance that would prevent Portland Pipe Line Corp. from reversing the flow in its underground pipe that now pumps crude oil from South Portland to Montreal. “While it is a milestone, this is only a step,” said City Councilor Tom Blake, who has been vocally opposed to oil sands, often referred to by critics as tar sands.

Manipulative message won ballots but may have lost tar sands battle

Mike Tipping | Portland Press Herald - November 19th 2013

Press Clipping: I was reminded of the idiom of the Pyrrhic victory when I learned the results of the tar sands referendum in South Portland on Tuesday. The anti-Waterfront Protection Ordinance campaign was successful in defeating the initiative to prevent the importation and processing of tar sands on the South Portland waterfront by just 192 votes. The way in which they succeeded at the ballot box, however, may have lost them the larger fight: Basically, they all but admitted that tar sands oil is awful and went out of their way to assure voters it wouldn’t be piped through their town, regardless of the referendum’s outcome.

Greens slam Coke, Pepsi for oil sands crude in trucks

Andrew Restuccia | Politico - October 24th 2013

Press Clipping: Politico is reporting on the fact The Sierra Club and ForestEthics are taking on the kings of the soft-drink world. These tw leading environmental groups are running ads in USA Today calling on Coca-Cola and Pepsi to end their reliance on fuel derived from Canadian tar sands crude when shipping their products around the U.S. “Choices you make about … how your company sources oil, and the efficiency of your fleet, will have a direct effect on U.S. carbon pollution," says the campaign website, "and will send powerful market signals about efficiency and extreme oil.”