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Tar Sands cause rising cancer among Albertans

Special to The Canadian

First Nations communities in Alberta like the Cree, Dene and Metis presently experience profound negative impacts to their lands, waters, health and human rights arising from the tar sands project. These Canadian tar sands are the largest industrial project in the world, spanning 10.6 million acres and intending to produce over 1 million barrels of oil per day via highly-destructive methods of extraction and refinement. Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network describes the Athabascan tar sands region as a “landscape resembling a war zone marked with 200-foot-deep pits and thousands of acres of destroyed boreal forests.”

And the lion’s share of the oil extracted is intended for the U.S. market.

Despite these staggering impacts – for example, exceedingly high cancer rates in indigenous communities around the extractive regions, and high rates of land and aquatic animal birth defects – few are aware of this project, let alone of the havoc it wreaks. Until recently, U.S. support for the project continued unabated. The U.S. State Department has been preparing to approve the third major pipeline project, called Keystone XL, from the tar sands to oil refineries in Texas.

Tribal peoples along the pipeline’s proposed route, and at the source of the devastation, continue to stand in solidarity with one another in pursuit of environmental justice, human rights, and a sane, sustainable energy policy for Canada.

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