Greenpeace Opens Alberta Legislature Sitting with High Flying Protest

Greenpeace BannersEdmonton, Canada — Four Greenpeace activists suspended their bodies 138 feet over the North Saskatchewan River today to hang two 23 x 50 foot banners from the High Level Bridge in Edmonton. The banners depict the areas under current and projected tar sands development with the message "Stop the Tar Sands." They hang in full view of the Alberta legislature, which opened today.

"This government is recklessly pursuing the destruction of Alberta's environment and it has to stop," said Mike Hudema, Greenpeace campaigner. "Unless we act quickly, the tar sands will devastate the region's water supply, ravage a quarter of the province's landscape and ruin any chance for Canada to meaningfully tackle climate change.

"Our activists are risking arrest and punishment to sound the alarm and to plead with politicians to prevent this crime against the environment."

The tar sands are dirty. To produce a single barrel of tar sands oil requires three to five times the amount of water. Wastewater is collected in giant "tailing ponds" visible from space and so toxic that birds are kept away using air cannons.

Old growth forests are ripped from the ground and discarded to make way for giant earthmovers to dig up the landscape, an important habitat to wildlife. If all of the proposed leases for tar sands development are granted, the tar sands will encompass an area the size of Florida.

It also takes two to five times more energy to produce a barrel of oil from the tar sands than any other type of oil production. Energy production from the burning of fossil fuels contributes to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases. The tar sands, if current plans proceed, are expected to emit 140 million tonnes of greenhouse gases – or double the annual emissions of all the cars and trucks in the country today.

Greenpeace is calling for an immediate moratorium on new tar sands development, a phase-out of existing projects and aggressive investment in renewable energy.

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Contact: Mike Hudema, Greenpeace climate change campaigner, (780) 504-5601; Jane Story, Greenpeace communications officer, (416) 930-9055; Note to editors: High resolution photos available at Video available upon request.