Tar sands, also called "oil sands," are actually clays, sands and silts mixed with bitumen (a hydro-carbon much denser, heavier and thicker than oil) and exist in over 70 countries. Through energy and water-intensive processes, tar sands can produce synthetic oil. Production negatively affects water, human and animal health and contributes far more to climate change than conventional oil. Tar sands production is just beginning to expand globally, using technology developed in Canada.
Oil shale is a rock that has kerogen locked inside of it. Kerogen is a hydrocarbon building block that can be made into a synthetic oil. Current methods for extracting kerogen rock are very similar to those used in tar sands extraction, though more energy intensive. Oil shale developments would pollute water and air, while emitting massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
If Canada's tar sands threaten the possibility of catastrophic climate change, global tar sands and oil shale development promise to guarantee it.
Canada's tar sands are one of the largest and fastest-growing industrial projects in history. As the tar sands scar has stretched across the landscape of northern Alberta, the resistance movement has grown, spreading across North America and worldwide. In recent years, other countries have begun exploring the use of "made in Canada" tar sands technology on similar oil deposits globally.
Tar sands and oil shale deposits have been targeted for mining and "in-situ" developments in multiple countries. From north of the Arctic Circle to the Equator, the thread that holds tar sands and oil shale developments together is Canada's foray into extreme oil extraction in Alberta. As international energy companies look to expand into tar sands across the earth, so too must resistance, solidarity and understanding from climate justice activists. This website will track developments and provide alternative narratives to the business and industry press, as well as resources for communities and their allies in resistance to tar sands and oil shale projects.