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A huge supply of oil permeates the sandy soil of Canada's Alberta province. It puts Canada just behind Saudi Arabia in terms of the size of its reserves - but it is also dirty and expensive to extract.
Proponents say tar sand oil is the way of the future and that cleaner technologies are being developed to extract it.
But downstream from the project, native First Nation tribes are pursuing legal avenues in an attempt to stop toxic waste polluting their water supply.
The US likes the convenience and stability of having a huge oil supply on its doorstep, but investors from Norway and China are also interested in getting a piece of the tar sands.
However, some Canadians feel that they are giving away too much of their precious non-renewable resources too fast and too soon.
On Thursday's Riz Khan we look at the pros and cons of the project, its environmental impact within Canada and its political impact internationally.
We will be joined by Canadian journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent in Calgary, and oil lobbyist Paul Michael Wihbey, author of The Rise of the New Oil Order.
This episode of the Riz Khan show aired on Thursday, July 16, 2009.
Source: Al Jazeera