The mining of the tar sands, being as much solid as they are liquid, requires great effort. The easiest method is strip mining, though some newer mines heat and dilute the bitumen underground to make it flow easier. Once removed from the ground, bitumen is too viscous to flow through pipelines as conventional crude does, thus, it is next converted into synthetic oil to aid transport. These processes can use huge quantities of water and require so much electricity that one tar sand mine has considered building a nuclear power plant to power the mine itself.
"For Montana, the successful development of this shipping corridor is synonymous with Montana complacency in the destruction of Alberta and the impact that continued mining has on climate change," Stocks added about the role the shipping corridor would play toward contributing to climate change. "In Montana, further climate change means more beetle killed forests, fewer glaciers, reduced springtime stream flow and more extensive fires in summer. Agricultural lands already feel the impact of drought and our forests feel the impact of warmer winters. It doesn't matter what industry you belong to in our state, climate change is all inclusive."
Research shows that tar sands mining causes an extraordinary and often permanent, detriment to the environment. Air monitoring near Fort McMurray, Alberta, for example, has recorded excessive levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide, as well as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate matters.