Activists block tar sands mining operation.

Tar sands activists unveil massive banner in Alberta, Canada

Tar sands activists unveil massive banner in Alberta, Canada

Pop quiz: Which country is the biggest exporter of oil to the United States?

Venezuela? Mexico? Saudi Arabia? None of the above. The correct answer is America’s neighbor to the north, Canada.

In a story that will almost certainly not make headlines in mainstream American news outlets, a group of activists blocked tar sands mining operations in Northern Alberta. The activists unveiled a massive banner and chained themselves to equipment.

Most of Canada’s oil comes from the tar sands – a bitumen rich deposit of sand, clay and water the size of England. It is the single the largest industrial project in the world.

Creating usable petroleum from the tar sands isn’t easyor environmentally friendly – and has only been feasible in light of higher oil prices and newer technologies.

According to Greenpeace:

Tar sands Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, already nearing those of Norway, could soon more than triple to 140 million tonnes a year, as outlined in a Greenpeace report by award winning author Andrew Nikiforuk released this week. At that point they would equal or exceed those of Belgium, a county of 10 million. These numbers account only for the production of tar sands oil, and do not account for the massive additional GHG impact of burning the fuel.

Tar sands mining has other detrimental impacts on the environment, including toxic runoff and deforestation. CLF’s work on the Low Carbon Fuel Standard is intended to, among other things, reduce use of bitumen mining.

The activists hope to put the tar sands in the spotlight as President Obama and Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, meet in Washington, DC today.

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