Tar sands proponents have admitted that additional pipeline capacity is essential to the expansion of the tar sands. As a result, energy companies are implementing plans to build or expand at least five major pipelines to transport bitumen crude to the Gulf Coast, the West Coast and the East Coast. These massive infrastructure projects  are essential prerequisites for expanding tar sands development, and lock us into a fossil-fuel dependent future that would have disastrous impacts for the climate.



keystone-map-smTransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline would connect the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to giant refineries in Texas. The proposed pipeline would be 2,736 kilometres (1,700 miles) long and cross six U.S. states, threatening to contaminate freshwater supplies in America’s agricultural heartland and to increase refinery emissions in already-polluted communities of the U.S. Gulf Coast.

This pipeline fight has become arguably the top issue of the American progressive community, opposed by dozens of major and local environmental groups, native American tribes, landowners who do not want it on or near their land, community groups trying to protect their drinking water, and people across the U.S. who believe that the pipeline takes the country in the wrong direction by perpetuating dependence on dirty oil.

Following widespread opposition to the pipeline in the U.S. in 2011, and Congressional maneuvers to force an early decision, the Obama administration rejected TransCanada’s application on January 18th, 2012. On May 4th 2012, TransCanada reapplied for the Presidential Permit.

The U.S. State Department released a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. While it indicated that the not building the pipeline would have almost no impact on jobs, US oil supply, or heavy oil supply for Gulf Coast refineries. However, it ignored the impact the pipeline would have on climate change by facilitating the expansion of the tar sands and the massive amounts of greenhouse gas pollution it emits into the atmosphere.

Key Campaigns

Environmental and community groups across North America have come together to oppose the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It offers no positive economic or energy security benefits, and it creates significant risks to local and regional water supplies, as well as exacerbating climate change by encouraging more tar sands development. Even U.S. President Barack Obama, who will ultimately decide whether to approve or reject Keystone XL, has admitted that employment and other benefits touted by supporters of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are probably exaggerated, which is a huge victory for those campaigning against the project. It just shows how powerful a group of enthusiastic and dedicated people can be.

Here are a few of the key campaigns opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and encouraging clean energy alternatives.


gateway-map-smIf approved, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines would carry 525,000 barrels of oil per day (BPD) from the Alberta tar sands to the port of Kitimat on the West Coast of British Columbia. The pipeline would travel 1177 km (731miles) through harsh mountainous terrain, cross hundreds of salmon-bearing streams, negatively impact grizzly bear habitat, and end on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Here, the oil would be loaded onto super-sized oil tankers that would travel through dangerous coastal waters that are part of the renowned Great Bear Rainforest, the second largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.

Like the Keystone XL pipeline, Northern Gateway would encourage the rapid expansion of the tar sands, put local and regional water sources at risk, threaten salmon that depend on clean water to spawn, and exacerbate climate change. Inevitable oil tanker spills would put at risk the whales, dolphins, fish, and marine life that support First Nations communities, commercial and recreational fishing industries, and a thriving wilderness tourism industry.

Key Campaigns

The Northern Gateway pipeline is opposed by dozens of environmental and community groups, including more than 100 First Nations, many of whom have used ancestral laws to ban oil tanker and tar sands pipelines from their traditional territories.  More than a thousand people signed up to speak at public hearings in 2012 and 2013, and only two spoke in favour of the Northern Gateway pipeline, and thousands of people turned out for the Defend Our Coast rallies across B.C.

Polls indicate that the majority of British Columbians oppose the pipeline and would like to see a permanent ban on oil tankers. The momentum is definitely swinging our way!

Here are a few of the key campaigns opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline and encouraging clean energy alternatives.


kindermorgan-map-smKinder Morgan hopes to triple the capacity of its existing TransMountain Pipeline from 300,000 to almost 900,000 barrels per day by 2017. To achieve this, Kinder Morgan want to twin its pipeline, which links the Alberta  tar sands with a marine terminal located in a narrow stretch of Port Metro Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. To transport this additional oil to markets in Asia, tankers leaving Vancouver’s harbour will increase from a previous peak of about 70 per year to 288 annually.

Kinder Morgan has also indicated that it may seek permission to use larger, Suezmax tankers, each carrying up to one million barrels of oil, and Port Metro Vancouver is considering plans to dredge Burrard Inlet’s Second Narrows to accommodate these larger ships with heavier loads. The “narrows” are not a misnomer—this restriction in Vancouver’s harbour poses a navigational challenge due to shallow waters and strong tidal currents.

Key Campaigns

Opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline is growing in British Columbia. Several environmental and community groups have begun working on the issue, and local First Nations have voiced their opposition. The Vancouver Parks Board, the City of Vancouver and the City of Burnaby have all passed resolutions opposing the pipeline.

Here are a few of the key campaigns opposing the TransMountain pipeline expansion and encouraging clean energy alternatives.


The Enbridge-owned Trailbreaker pipeline (also known as Line 9) runs from Sarnia, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec, where it connects with the Portland Montreal Pipe Line (PMPL). Currently 152,000 barrels per day are shipped from Portland, Maine to refineries in Sarnia. In order to expedite the expansion of the tar sands, Enbridge has begun the process of reversing the flow of this pipeline. If approved, tar sands oil will be shipped to Sarnia through existing pipelines, and then through Line 9 to Montreal. From there, it would be transported to Portland, Maine via the Portland-Montreal Pipeline, a 62-year-old pipeline that runs through New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, where it will be loaded on to oil tankers and shipped to market in Asia and beyond.

Enbridge’s request to reverse a portion of this pipeline is under review by the National Energy Review Board. Residents and communities along the pipeline route in both the U.S. and Canada are concerned about heavy crude from the tar sands spilling into their land and water, as well as the increased air pollution and GHG emissions from the expansion of tar sands development.

Key campaigns

Local opposition to the reversal of Line 9 and the Portland-Montreal Pipeline is growing. Communities in Ontario and Quebec have expressed concern and are asking for increased environmental oversight about whether the aging pipeline can handle tar sands crude. In the U.S., more than 30 communities (most of which are in Vermont) have approved resolutions opposing the transport of tar sands oil through the Portland-Montreal Pipeline.

Here are a few of the key campaigns opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and encouraging clean energy alternatives.


If tar sands oil is allowed to make its way to the West Coast of Canada, super tankers would transport the oil from Kitimat (Enbridge Northern Gateway)  and Burnaby/Vancouver (Kinder Morgan) through B.C.’s coastal waters to Asia. The risk of a catastrophic oil spill from these tankers is high, and puts the majority of BC’s ocean economy (based on fisheries, tourism and recreation) at risk.

Key campaigns: