World demand for oil is ever increasing even with massive developments and implementation of greener fuel sources such as solar, wind, geothermal etc.   Most of the accessible cheap crude oil has been exhausted as the planet pumps its way past peak oil. Peak oil is the point where demand has outstripped conventional supply and production leading to eventual shortages unless new sources are found.  Tar Sands, also called ‘oil sands’, is a large source of non-conventional crude oil.  Oil is locked in soil either on the surface or contained underground.  The solid that contains the crude oil is referred to as bitumen.  High oil prices in addition to government subsidies, free environmental services and low royalty payments from production have all supported the development of the tar sands.  The vast majority of bitumen is located in Alberta. 

In short, Canada has been courting investment and world markets for this dirty and inefficient oil.  The Canadian government partnered with Alberta wish to see this crude flow by pipelines both directly to markets in the US for refinement, eastern Canada and to BC ports to be shipped via tanker to world markets.  Opposition has been large to say the least due to the real environmental threats, climate change and because it continues our dependence of fossil fuels.
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