About Tar (Oil) Sands

One unconventional fossil fuel making headlines is tar (oil) sands in light of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project.   In order to prepare your students for contemplating the pros and cons of this controversial project, a good place to start is to introduce them to the energy source  in this story.

The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is preparing a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Oil Shale and Tar Sands resources on lands administered by the BLM in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Their online center for public information contains an About Tar Sands page with general information as well as photos.

Also, the government of Alberta has devoted a section of its website to Oil Sands including a page titled “About Oil Sands” which contains a visual depiction of the composition of oil sands along with a glossary.

Please share other resources that can be used to introduce students to the basics of tar sands.


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