Tar Sands Solutions Network

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Cleaning up the Tar Sands

Alberta’s tar sands is one of the world’s dirtiest and most destructive sources of energy, in large part because it has been allowed to expand too quickly and without adequate public oversight.

The solutions are clear. It's time to stop tar sands expansion, implement readily available solutions for existing problems, and develop a strategy to phase out tar sands development altogether, as part of a clean energy strategy for Canada.

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Stop tar sands expansion

There are too many intractable problems that will only get worse if the oil industry's massive tar sands expansion plans are realized. Tar sands production must be capped and all projects that are not under construction must be retired. Proposals for building more tar sands pipelines should also be rejected.

Fix tar sands problems

Even if tar sands expansion were stopped today, existing development has already created serious social and environmental problems that must be addressed immediately. Technical solutions to most of these problems are readily available, but they haven’t been implemented because they have been deemed too expensive: oil companies don’t want to pay for them and the Alberta and Canadian governments want to encourage rapid tar sands expansion. Necessary interventions that could be regulated into existence today include eliminating air and water pollution, eliminating the creation of toxic liquid tailings and cleaning up the vast tailings ponds, implementing an effective woodland caribou recovery plan that will prevent the extirpation of this threatened species, drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerating reclamation activities that restore the landscape to its original natural characteristics.

Phase out tar sands development

The continued expansion of tar sands development is not compatible with preventing catastrophic climate change and developing the clean energy economy Canadians and Americans are demanding. If the world is to rein-in climate change before it results in massive environmental problems and social and political unrest, tar sands development will need to be phased out well before it has completely been exploited. A long-term plan needs to be developed and implemented to phase out tar sands oil production and develop clean-energy alternatives.

Cleaning up the Tar Sands Updates & Resources

The Wisdom of the Crowds


Hendrik Hertzberg | The New Yorker - September 25th 2014

Press Clipping: If anyone can be called a leader, even the leader, of the People’s Climate March (and of the movement it represents, for that matter), McKibben’s the one. He dreamed the march up in the first place; he is its intellectual father, he wrote its manifesto, and he was its principal organizer. He is at once its Thomas Paine and its Bayard Rustin. Yet there he was, taking a walk down Central Park West like everybody else.

Walking the Climate Walk

September 18th 2014

Blog Post: World leaders are meeting in New York City next week for a historic UN summit on climate change. Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn't the only one who can't make it, so NYC-based Purpose has launched the #WalkTheWalk campaign for those who can’t march themselves at the People's Climate March on Sunday in the lead-up to the UN meeting. Here are eight must-see short #WalkTheWalk videos.

Tom Levy: Federal Climate Change Action Needed in Canada

Tom Levy | Technical and Utility Affairs at the Canadian Wind Energy Association - July 10th 2014

Blog Post: The evidence is clear: countries around the world, heeding the call of scientists and insurance companies alike, are adopting policies and regulations to address anthropogenic sources of GHGs. While some work has been done in Canada, there are many more opportunities available to us to reduce our emissions.

Let’s make oil sands development responsible


Jennifer Grant | Contributed to The Globe and Mail - November 29th 2013

Blog Post: The federal government is spending two years and $24-million in taxpayer dollars on an ad campaign to cast the oil sands industry as a world leader in“responsible resource development.” It’s a storyline echoed by oilsands proponents, who assert – as Margaret Wente did earlier this week – that oil sands production is governed by “some of the most stringent environmental regulations on the planet.” Even if that were true – and unfortunately, it’s not – regulations can only save the day if they are enforced. Take a closer look at environmental management in the oil sands, and you’ll find too many cases where existing regulations are brushed off by oil sands operators, government agencies, or both.