"Toxic Tar Sands: Profiles From The Front Lines"
Alberta | Michigan | Minnesota | Texas | Indiana | South Dakota | Nebraska | Kansas
Most Americans have never heard of the Alberta tar sands, yet it is one of the largest and most destructive projects on Earth. This little-known industrial mega-project is creating an ongoing environmental disaster in Canada, and is now threatening to create one here in the United States.
Tar sands oil is mined from a black sticky substance called bitumen, found beneath the vast boreal forest in Alberta, Canada. To extract tar sands crude, oil companies clear-cut ancient forest, then strip mine the soil beneath it, using huge quantities of fresh water and natural gas to separate the oil from bitumen. The process leaves behind giant toxic lakes that are linked to abnormally high rates of cancer in neighboring communities and are large enough to be seen from space.
But it doesn't stop there. The oil industry is expanding facilities to process this toxic oil here in the United States through a network of refineries and pipelines. Public health in several states is under threat from dramatic increases in refining pollution, and massive pipelines are planned to cross the United States' largest freshwater aquifer, which supplies one-third of our nation's agriculture. Communities in Alberta have long been speaking out about the damage tar sands poses to their health through water and air pollution.
Now, Americans from Minnesota to Houston are worried about Canada's tar sands expansion poisoning their water, destroying their farmland, and contaminating their air. Here, we profile thirteen people from across North America whose health and livelihoods are at risk as a result of toxic tar sands expansion.