Recently, 500 ducks mistook a lake of toxic tar sands waste in Alberta for one of the many pristine waters in Canada’s Boreal forests. Once coated with the oily residue, the ducks couldn’t fly away and they all died. Many had flown from the United States on their way to have their young in the Boreal. The deceptive waters of the enormous waste lagoons were likely too attractive for them on their long trek north. Tar sands oil is just as deceptive as a solution to our energy needs.
The death of 500 ducks was one more warning about harm caused by mining and drilling Canada’s Boreal forests for the tar sands oil that lies deep under the surface. Beneath the carpet of blue waters and green forests of the Province of Alberta, the tar sands are sand mixed with a sticky substance called bitumen. This bitumen – after using lots of energy and water – can be turned into synthetic crude oil, and from there into fuel for our cars, trucks and airplanes.
In addition to the problems of torn up forests and toxic lagoons, the process for making the synthetic crude produces three times the greenhouse gases per barrel as conventional oil production.