Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on July 14, 2010


Oilsands Quest, a Calgary-based company, already has a lease on 651,565 acres in north western Saskatchewan.  In May it applied to the Ministry of Environment for permission to start producing 30,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day near LaLoche. The next step is an application for commercial project approval to the Ministry of Energy and Resources.


Ever since the April 20th blowout at the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, tar sands proponents have been promoting tar sands oil as a “safer” option. While there is no risk of a rig blowout, there is nothing environmentally safe about tar sands oil extraction–a process which, in and of itself, is a horrendous environmental catastrophe. 


  • The extraction process emits 3-5 times more carbon dioxide than regular oil. The Alberta tar sands are the single biggest contributor to the growth of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.  
  • It takes 3-7 barrels of water to produce a single barrel of oil. That’s between 230-530 million cubic metres a year.  
  • Enough natural gas is used in the tar sands every day to heat 3.2 million Canadian homes for 24 hours. That’s over 25% of Canadian homes. 
  • The tar sands are carving huge gashes in the world’s largest intact forest, which serves as a vital absorber of carbon dioxide.  The tar sands are the source of the 2nd fastest rate of deforestation on the planet.
  • The tar sands generate 6,500 barrels of toxic waste every day. This waste is stored in massive unlined tailings ponds that occupy 140 square km of forest along the Athabasca River. These ponds of toxic sludge are so poisonous that birds which accidentally land on them died instantly.  


These toxic ponds leak into the Athabasca River at a rate of at least 11 million litres a day. As a result, the river’s levels of toxic chemicals, which include arsenic, cyanide, and naphthenic acids, are steadily rising.

At Fort Chipewyan, a downstream First Nations community, the increase in cancer is 30% higher than in other communities, an increase that coincided with the development of the tar sands. 

In the tar sands region, workers and local residents breathe in pollutant emissions, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and benzene, a leukemia-causing carcinogen. In 2009, tar sands companies breached Alberta’s air pollution targets 1,556 times or more than 4 times every day.

The federal government subsidizes the tar sands industry to the tune of $1 billion per year.


Saskatchewan tar sands oil is too deep to be mined. Instead, it will be extracted by the in situ method–a process that involves steam injection to melt the bitumen.  

Some tar sands industry advocates have touted the in situ method as a green alternative. However, recent studies have shown that in situ projects have higher greenhouse gas and sulphur dioxide emissions than mining. They may also use more water. Their impact on wildlife habitat is the same as mining.

“The negative costs of tar sands and deep ocean resources should point to the need to work toward a carbon-free energy future.”         –David Suzuki


  • Learn more about tar sands by visiting the website of the Pembina Institute:
  • Let key members of the Saskatchewan government know you don’t want the province to develop this dirty and dangerous form of fuel. Now is the time to get off oil, which has terrible consequences for the environment and for us. We must switch to renewables:  Premier Brad Wall: 787-9433 or Duncan, Minister of the Environment: 787-0393 or; Bill Boyd, Minister of Energy and Resources: 787-9124 or
  • Let Stephen Harper know you want the federal government to stop subsidizing the tar sands industry: or 613-992-4211.


From the Leader Post, July 7 2010

“Federal politicians from the government and opposition benches have mysteriously cancelled an 18-month investigation into oilsands pollution in water and opted to destroy draft copies of their final report….The aborted investigation comes as new questions are being raised about the Harper government’s decision to exempt a primary toxic pollutant [naphthenic acids] found in oilsands tailings ponds from a regulatory agenda.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: