Join the Tar Sands Free Towns Campaign

What is the Tar Sands Free Town initiative?  

The Tar Sands Free Town initiative connects people in local communities across the United States and parts of Canada who are fighting the expansion of tar sands in their local community.

Building on model resolutions already adopted in Bellingham, Washington, individual municipalities can pass resolutions that keep fuel from tar sands refineries out of their towns.  Although tar sands oil itself hasn’t yet entered New England, fuel from refineries using tar sands is being distributed across New England, so municipalities must take action to avoid buying this fuel that supports the tar sands.  Also, pipeline companies appear to be taking steps to bring tar sands directly to the eastern seaboard.  Municipal resolutions can take a stand against these tar sands plans as well. 

Setting up a network of towns, organizations, and businesses who oppose fuel from tar sands refineries and new infrastructure for transporting tar sands will raise public awareness about the dangers of tar sands, hold oil companies and politicians to account, and demonstrate to  governments that the public rejects this extreme form of energy that is much more dangerous and polluting than conventional oil. 


What does it mean to be a Tar Sands Free Town?

A Tar Sands Free Town is a community that is working toward a healthy future for the planet and its people. Rather than pursue a destructive path of increasing reliance on dirty fuels, a tar sands free community embraces clean energy - not sources that threatens the planet with catastrophic climate change harm the environment and risk human health and safety.

How do we become a Tar Sands Free Town?

Because all groups have different skills, priorities, and opportunities, there is no one blueprint for becoming a Tar Sands Free Town. Instead, the group is free to choose its activities, with the list below serving as a starting point. Feel free to go beyond it!

  1. Raise awareness locally: Set up information booths outside of banks and gas stations; hand out leaflets and collect contact information. Organize film nights; speaker events; and workshops.
  2. Lobby your local town leaders to adopt a Tar Sands Free Town Resolution. Please coordinate closely with us on this, as we may already be working with folks from your town who have started reaching out to elected officials.  Write letters to the editor or op-ed pieces, organize meetings and petitions, and have a presence at local government meetings, usually held on a monthly basis. This is particularly useful if your town has a pipeline or pumping station nearby.
  3. Join your Town Energy Committee to move your town toward energy efficiency and energy independence - to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Visit the  Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network website to find out how to connect with the Energy Committee in New England.
  4. Build the movement: make contacts with other local groups (including student groups: Transition Network; local and Sierra Club groups; and/or other environmental groups) and take the Tar Sands Free community beyond your town borders. While you’re at it, take action at the national and international levels through online activism, with organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Greenpeace and others!
  5. Organize local actions and events to raise awareness in your area. Again, this is particularly applicable if you live near a pipeline or a pumping station. Court the local media so that this issue gets good coverage in your area. We’re happy to help with organizing and directing national media attention your way.
  6. Research where your town purchases its heating oil and transport fuel. Refer to the list of known tar sands refineries in the United States and keep in mind that a town may be supplied by oil from distant refineries. Lobby your town to utilize a tar sands free supplier where possible, and encourage your elected officials to push for greater transparency so that the public can know what’s flowing in the pipelines that run through their communities.
  7. Encourage the businesses in your area to become a Tar Sands Free company. This includes both For Profit and Not For Profit companies as well as farms and other agricultural businesses. Most of these buy fuel of some sort and thus can take concrete action to become tar sands free.
  8. Join our Tar Sands Free Northeast Action List to participate in broader state and regional actions and programs to stop the expansion of tar sands oil. Build solidarity links with communities affected by tar sands. Eventually, this could lead to a "twinning" campaign, where a Tar Sands Free Town would be paired with a community in Alberta. It might involve hosting an event for a Canadian First Nations speaker when one comes to your local area, or starting to communicate directly with community members to plan campaigns.


  • We have a wealth of information about tar sands, tar sands pipeline safety, frequency and consequences of tar sands spills. Detailed information on these and other topics is available upon request.
  • We can provide resources such as leaflets, stickers, posters, etc. We can also provide speakers if you want to organize speaking events, workshops, Q&A sessions and/or film screenings.
  • We will share regular updates about what is going on nationally and regionally in the campaign so that you can stay up-to-speed and know that your work is effective and strategic.

 How can you become a Tar Sands Free Town today?

Easy! E-mail us to show your interest. If possible, tell us a bit about your group and why you want to get involved so we know how best to help you. Someone from the Tar Sands Free Northeast group will then come and speak to your group about tar sands and how you can get involved in the Tar Sands Free Town Campaign. 

If you would like to jump right in to encouraging your town to pass a resolution against buying or using tar sands oil, we can help with on-the-ground support, model resolutions and strategies for making it a reality.

If your towns adopts a resolution we help organize an official "launch ceremony," share your success story on our website. Having declared yourself Tar Sands Free, you would then start participating in the Tar Sands Free Northeast Coalition!

The Bellingham Resolutions can be found here:

Fleet Fuel:

Fossil Fuel Alternatives:

 A list of company commitments on Tar Sands can be found here: