Groups launch mapping tool to show Minister Kent need to stop new tar sands mine

EDMONTON — Environmental groups today launched a new online mapping tool to give new federal Environment Minister Peter Kent a sense of the size and scale of the tar sands by overlaying a map of the mining projects over his home riding to drive home the message that allowing the approval of a new open-pit tar sands mine in Alberta is an irresponsible first move as environment minister.

The mapping tool, similar to the visualization tool environmental groups created after the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, shows the size of Total’s proposed Joslyn tar sands mine along with  all current tar sands mine sites and the total leasable area for mining. The default setting is over Kent’s home riding of Thornhill, Ontario. Users can move the footprint of any mine site or the tar sands leasable area to anywhere in the world to get a better sense of the scale of these huge projects.

“We launched this tool to show people just how massive the tar sands projects are and just how much more destruction will be caused if the government doesn’t start saying no to these multinational oil giants,” said Mike Hudema, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner. “We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from the federal government about wanting to improve the tar sands, but what we haven’t seen is action, If new Environment Minister Kent approves Total’s Joslyn mining project, he will make a mockery of the pledges of his predecessor and the Prime Minister.

The groups launched the mapping tool as the provincial and federal governments are deciding whether or not to approve French oil giant Total’s proposed new tar sands mine. A decision on the controversial mining project would come after the Royal Society of Canada and the Federal Oilsands Advisory Panel both reported serious concerns with existing tar sands projects. The Chair of the Advisory Panel even said: “until we solve the problems associated with the surveillance system, you cannot trust what the data indicate, and consequently, you cannot credibly say that you are making the right decisions when you rely on this data.”[1]

“Independent scientists have confirmed concerns with existing impacts of tar sands operations and with the lack of data to adequately assess the consequences from existing projects, let alone new ones,” explained Dustin Johnson, energy campaigner with Sierra Club Prairie. “With this online tool, we can provide a simple reality check about the damage already caused by tar sands and why it is important not to make the problems worse by approving another massive open pit mine.”

If approved, Total’s Joslyn Mine would spew 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, remove and pollute up to 22 billion litres of fresh water from the Athabasca River each year, release 12.5 billion litres of toxic tailings waste, and destroy 7,000 hectares of boreal forest — equivalent to 13,000 football fields.

“This is an opportunity for governments to be accountable to Treaty rights and the health of downstream communities,” remarked Clayton Thomas-Muller with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “The land, the animals and the people are already getting sick. We can’t weather another massive mine in this region. The governments of Canada and Alberta have a responsibility to deal with the toxic mess they’ve already made before they can consider adding to it.”

To date 100 per cent of proposed tar sands mining projects have been approved in Alberta.

The online tool is viewable at

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For more information, please contact:

  • Mike Hudema, Climate and Energy campaigner, Greenpeace Canada, 780-504-5601
  • Sheila Muxlow, Director, Sierra Club Prairie, 780-660-0312
  • Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaigner, IEN 218-760-6632
  • Brant Olson, Director, Freedom from Oil Campaign, 415-596-6581

[1]  Elizabeth Dowdeswell, cited in .