The Good Route: Oil Sands, Olympic Loser

Feb 17, 2010
Outside Magazine

Oil-sands With all eyes on Vancouver and the Winter Olympics, the Sierra Club is taking an opportunity to call attention to the environmentally destructive practice of oil sands mining. It has launched a campaign called Love Winter, Hate Oil Sands and partnered with three winter athletes--skier (and founder of Save Our Snow Foundation) Alison Gannett, snowboarder (and founder of Protect Our Winters) Jeremy Jones, and former NHL goaltender (and Olympic silver medalist) Mike Richter--to call out the link between oil sands and climate change.

Oil sands (aka tar sands) extraction is more energy and water intensive than conventional oil extraction, but it's also big business in Canada--specifically Alberta.

The Vancouver Olympics are partnering with several companies responsible for oil sands expansion, says the Sierra Club's deputy press secretary Kristina Johnson. These firms include Petro Canada (Sunoco), which runs six oil sands projects, Transcanada, the company behind a major proposed pipeline set to run through the U.S., and the Royal Bank of Canada, which has invested more money in oil sands than any other bank.

Sierra Club has also joined forces with the Dogwood Initiative, a Canadian environmental watchdog group, in an effort to make the sloggy, snowless Cypress Mountain (conditions which are tied to the current El Nino, but never mind that) a stage for an anti-oil-sands push.  The groups are hoping to rally spectators into activists during the Games. "Canada's identity as a winter wonderland is threatened by its government's support of dirty oil," says Charles Campbell of the Dogwood Initiative.

--Mary Catherine O'Connoris a freelance writer, covering the environment, sustainability andoutdoor recreation. The Good Route, her blog for Outside Online, isfocused on the places where the active life and sustainability merge.

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