What are tar sands and why are they a problem?

What are tar sands and why are they a problem?

Burning tar sands oil creates more pollution than regular crude. Because of its sludgy composition, mining and refining tar sands oil demands an enormous amount of energy. Tar sands generate 17 percent more carbon emissions than conventional oil.

Why is tar sands oil dirty?

Tar sands extraction emits up to three times more global warming pollution than does producing the same quantity of conventional crude. It also depletes and pollutes freshwater resources and creates giant ponds of toxic waste. Refining the sticky black substance produces piles of petroleum coke, a hazardous by-product.

Why does Canada sell oil to the US?

Canada also exports refined petroleum products to the U.S. whether it’s funding for health care, education, or a variety of other important services that give us one of the highest living standards in the world. That’s why it’s so important that we continue building pipelines to export our oil (and gas).

Why is Canadian crude so cheap?

Canadian heavy crude has become so cheap that the cost of shipping it to refineries exceeds the value of the oil itself, a situation that may result in even more oil-sands producers shutting operations. Synthetic crude, produced from oil-sands bitumen that’s been run through an upgrader, fell to $9.56 a barrel.

What are the disadvantages of tar sands?


  • Enormous GHG emissions.
  • Relatively low net energy return compared to other sources.
  • Large amounts of water required: roughly 3:1.
  • Water pollution.
  • Destructive to major boreal forest.
  • Widespread habitat destruction, both on land and water.
  • Requires expensive and risky pipelines.

What are the benefits of the Alberta tar sands?

Very large supply. Second largest oil field in the world.

  • Economically recoverable at today’s oil prices.
  • Will help keep oil prices relatively low.
  • Enormous growth potential.
  • Big economic driver in Alberta.
  • Stable source country (a rarity for oil)
  • GHG emissions could potentially be minimized through CCS.
  • What do you need to know about the tar sands?

    The tar sands, sometimes called oil sands, are a massive site of oil extraction in Alberta. They cover an area larger than England and are one of the biggest industrial projects on the planet. What is tar sands oil and why is it so bad for the environment?

    Who are the people threatened by tar sands oil?

    To that end, NRDC has brought farmers, ranchers, and tribespeople threatened by the dirty fuel to Washington to tell their stories before key decision makers.

    Where does Canadian tar sands oil come from?

    Dredging up oil from under Canada’s boreal forest and piping it through the United States is a lose-lose proposition.

    How are First Nations being affected by tar sands?

    First Nations communities who had inhabited the new ground zero for tar sands oil development for thousands of years began voicing concerns. Their water, fishing, and hunting traditions were at risk—as was their health, with more rare and unusual cancers being diagnosed.

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