A new video from the Sierra Club, featuring actor Joshua Jackson, suggests that the oil from Canada's tar sands might not be in Americans' best interest. Jackson says in the clip, "Americans take on all the risks, while oil companies collect all the rewards."
The director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Oil campaign, Michael Marx, recently blogged for HuffPost, "The oil industry is getting desperate, and desperation breeds radicalism. [Canadian Prime Minister Stephen] Harper and Big Oil are desperate to cash in their wealth before fuel efficiency measures and the inevitable carbon pricing policies kill their market, so they need to disarm their opposition."
Despite opposition from environmentalists, Alberta remains determined to develop its oil sands resources. Last month, the government of Alberta released a report from a California-based engineering group, which found that emissions from tar sands crude are "just 12 percent higher" than from conventional crude, reported Reuters.
The European Union, however, has been vocal about its concerns with the tar sands' emissions, proposing that the fuel receive a dirty label. A 2011 EU-commissioned report found that it may emit as much as 22 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than other forms of crude.
In the U.S., much of the oil sands debate centers around the construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Supporters of the pipeline claim its construction would lower U.S. gas prices, but a May 2012 report from the Natural Resources Defense Council found the opposite would be true. The report claims that the pipeline would divert crude from midwestern refineries, explained HuffPost's Lucia Graves, reducing the amount of gasoline produced in the U.S.
Keystone XL opponents often cite the proposed pipeline's route and its proximity to drinking water aquifers as a reason to prohibit its construction. An existing tar sands pipeline in the U.S. spilled over 800,000 gallons of crude into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010. Pipeline operator Enbridge announced last month that it plans to enlarge the pipeline, more than doubling its current 230,000 barrel daily capacity.
Conservation photographer Garth Lenz traveled to Alberta and saw the Canadian oil sands firsthand. He wrote: "Hovering over them in a helicopter, below me lay devastation on a scale that could be only described as biblical."
Enbridge, which plans to build a tar sands pipeline from Alberta to the British Columbia coast, announced this week that 60 percent of the aboriginal communities living along the proposed route of the Northern Gateway pipeline "have agreed to accept an equity stake in the project," reported The Calgary Herald.
Click here to learn more about the Sierra Club's Beyond Oil campaign.