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Fossil Fuels more u.s. companies are boycotting petroleum products from the alberta tar sands

Published on August 31st, 2010 | by Tina Casey

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Boycott of Petroleum Products from Alberta Tar Sands Gathers Steam

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August 31st, 2010 by  

more u.s. companies are boycotting petroleum products from the alberta tar sandsIn a sign of things to come for corporate activism, The Gap, Timberland, Levi Strauss and Walgreens have just joined Whole Foods and Bed, Bath and Beyond in a boycott of petroleum products sourced from the notorious Alberta Tar Sands. As reported by Bob Weber of The Canadian Press, Federal Express has also adopted a policy that appears to lead toward joining the boycott.

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The move comes just as scientists from the University of Alberta released a report on the mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and nine other toxins from tar sands operations found in the Athabasca River system. In the meantime, environmentalists in the U.S. are raising the alarm over tar sands-related damage in Montana, where new road construction is planned in order to accommodate trucks hauling massive pieces of equipment to the Alberta tar sands.

Corporate Responsibility and the Alberta Tar Sands

The boycott campaign is lead by a group called Forest Ethics. Also joining in is a coalition called Corporate Ethics International, which is running a similar campaign called ReThink Alberta. CEI’s involvement is interesting because the organization has launched campaigns to get big corporations such as Staples and Walmart to change their practices, and in the process found itself working with a growing number of corporations that have adopted responsible practices. In addition, shareholders have petitioned BP not to finance development in the tar sands, and Shell investors are also voicing their discomfort with the hazards of tar sands projects. As more big companies start to flex their green muscles, environmental groups are forging some powerful allies.

Image: Flag of Canada by scazon on flickr.com.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Frank Hanlan

    As a citizen of Alberta (AB), Canada for 62 years I was heartened by hearing of more companies boycotting and/or reducing reliance on synthetic oil from the tar sands. I wrote a letter to The Gap to congratulate and thank them but got the following response in part.

    “First and foremost, we’d like to assure you that Gap Inc. never considered or initiated a boycott of fuel from Alberta. News reports to this effect are inaccurate and untrue. In fact, we have set the record straight to CBC news, which you can read at http://www.cbc.ca :

    http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/08/30/edmonton-companies-clarify-boycott-oilsands.html . . . ”

    The fact is that mining of the tar sands and resultant tailings ponds has been and continues to be an environmental disaster inspite of improvements to their processes. Our Conservative provincial gov’t is spending more money promoting the tar sands that it is in environmental monitoring and enforcing. Our Conservative federal gov’t has ceded its responsibility for environmental monitoring and enforcing to our provincial gov’t.

  • David M

    While I agree that the oil sands could really use an environmental makeover, there is another side to the story. What happens to most of this oil when it reaches the U.S. ? They burn it and create an even bigger environmental problem. This really sounds a bit too holier than thou.

    From the May 19, 2010 Globe & Mail: ” Canada’s oil sands will become the largest single source of imported oil to the United States this year, and could supply more than a third of America’s foreign oil by 2030 “

  • MD

    Frankly Canada does not care, SINOPEC is in there investing like stink on a diaper…

    Canada has been working on a NAFTA like deal with Europe as well.

    Say buh bye to 20% of your imported oil… oh and if Nuclear energy takes off elsewhere, say buh bye to the largest producer of the worlds Uranium Oxide ore.

    You like lumber too? I honestly think Canada should stop sending raw logs to the USA…

    Log your own trees, drill your own oil wells, mine your own Uranium and make your own electricity!

  • Billy

    Responsible practices….I can’t stop laughing….

    Are these same groups boycotting open pit coal mines that supply the energy to make there electricity we use?

    Are they boycotting the items that they come from the rain forests of the world? Are they boycotting any food(grains/vegetables/beef/lamb…etc)grown/raised in rain forest areas that have been clear cut to make open land? Oh, I could go on for long while with this, but I already know that it will not help.

    I just would like to groups to look at all the benefits and damages of a situation before running with it. As we all like our creature comforts like heat, housing, food ,health, and luxury items, we should look to ourselves to reduce consumption to help reduce projects like the open pit coal mines, clear cutting of rain forests and open pit oil mining.

    Just my thoughts…..

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