Will Walmart Take Action to Move Away From Tar Sands Fuel?

Tailings pond at oil sands development along Canada's Athabasca River. (Image Credit: David Dodge/Pembina Institute)

With the help of ForestEthics, 15 large businesses and one US city have publicly announced actions they have taken to reduce the environmental and social impacts that come from fossil-fueled transportation. Will Walmart be next?

Producing transportation fuel from Canada’s tar sands is more destructive, polluting, and carbon intensive than other ways of producing transportation fuel. Here is why:

First, the Boreal Forest’s rich ecosystem must be ripped open to expose tar sands sludge. Four tons of earth is dug up for every one barrel of tar sands sludge extracted.

Next comes the resource-intensive process of separating the sludge from the sand, and then ‘cleansing’ the sludge of unwanted toxics, requiring huge amounts of water and energy, and producing vast quantities of global warming pollution.

The process also produces toxic waste: 3 million gallons a day escape into the surrounding environment.

The Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Issue Highlights Only A Small Part of The Problem

Environmental groups may have won a temporary victory when their efforts persuaded Obama to delay the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline until an in-depth environmental review could be conducted. But the truth is that tar sands oil is already everywhere. The tar sands industry is worth an estimated $13 billion or so, and it’s already being refined at close to 50 refineries across the U.S.

Fortune 1000 Corporations are Fueling the Demand for Tar Sands Fuel

Many Fortune 1,000 companies based in the US are supporting this horrific environmental destruction and threatening community health by using Tar Sands fuel to ship their products.  Majority (99%) of Canadian oil exports go to the US, making Canada the biggest supplier of foreign oil to the US.

Why is this important? Todd Paglia, Executive Director, ForestEthics, opines,

“As we say at ForestEthics, the customer is always right. If the biggest fuel and shipping customers in the world keep shifting away from Tar Sands-based fuels, its fate is sealed. That would mean that the Keystone pipeline is not only not welcome in the U.S., it is not needed because demand is shrinking and shifting toward more efficient, sensible sources.”

Forest Ethics is Rallying Companies to Move Away from Dirty Oil

Forest Ethics has initiated a call for action since 2009 to encourage corporations to move away from fossil fuels, especially tar sands fuel. Some major companies have shown leadership and have taken different actions to reduce the environmental and social impacts – including carbon emissions – that come from fossil-fueled transportation. Companies like Walgreens and Chiquita have clearly decided to eliminate Canada’s tar sands from their transportation footprint. Others like QuiksilverGap Inc.Levi Strauss & Co.Timberland and FedEx have said they want to reduce the environmental and social impacts of transporting products.

Whole Foods, Trader Joe’sBed Bath & Beyond, Avon, LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, American Eagle Outfitters and Liz Claiborne Inc. have asked all transportation providers to avoid fuels that would counter their goal of reducing its carbon emissions. The City of Bellingham (one of two US gateway cities for Canada’s tar sands) also has a goal of reducing carbon emissions – so it adopted new guidelines that require minimizing its fuel purchasing from refineries taking feed stock from Canada’s tar sands. Forest Ethics is trying to reach out to Walmart and Safeway next.

Why Walmart’s Action will Help Walmart and the Movement?

Walmart has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to better its business practices and has even publicly admitted that saving green has resulted in million of dollars of savings and helped their bottom line. This is a great time for Walmart to show its support for a controversial environmental issue that has polarized political parties and citizens alike and win over skeptics. Walmart has gone to great lengths to green its fleet and shipping, saving millions of dollars in the process. Won’t it be fantastic if its fleet did not source the dirtiest fuel from the Canadian tar sands?

Tell Walmart’s CEO that you will like to see the company move away from tar sand fuels. Sign the petition and show your support!

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About the Author

Hi there! I am Priti and I specialize in strategy and communications for impact organizations that aim to create social, environmental and economic wealth for all stakeholders. Working from the ground up, I help these do-gooders craft effective programs for community engagement, outreach and profitability. Follow my work covering do-gooders, cleanweb, start-ups and Web 2.0 businesses on Ecopreneurist and at Crowdsourcing Week. I enjoy traveling with my boys, cooking up a gourmet meal from scratch and entertaining! Join my community for Social Entrepreneurs on G+ Follow me on Twitter, on LinkedIn and Google+