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Walgreens, Gap, Levi Join Oil Sands Fuel Boycott

A campaign to boycott Alberta-sourced gasoline has gained momentum after several U.S clothing manufacturers and a major U.S. drugstore chain announced they would avoid oil sands-related fuels.

The Gap, Timberland and Levi Strauss, as well as Walgreens, have joined a growing list of corporations choosing to avoid using gasoline refined from Canadian bitumen, reports the Calgary Herald.

Whole Foods and Bed, Bath and Beyond had previously joined the boycott according to the Canadian Press.

Federal Express has promised it will consider the environmental and social impacts of the fuels it uses, although it didn’t specifically mention the oil sands.

The move to less carbon-intensive fuels was sparked by an ongoing campaign by San Fransisco-based environmental group Forest Ethics, Walgreens spokeswoman Tiffani Washington told the Calgary Herald.

“We found that it was a relatively simple process of surveying our vendors, seeing which ones may have tar sands oil sourcing and simply avoiding those vendors,” Walgreen’s spokesman Michael Polzin told The Canadian Press. “We are in that process right now.”

The drugstore chain, which operates more than 700 trucks in its 7,500-store network, surveyed its fuel providers to avoid any sources of oil sands-sourced gasoline, Polzin said.

“What this signals is the beginning in earnest of the financial war over the tar sands,” said Todd Paglia of the environmental group Forest Ethics, which is organizing the campaign.

“In the U.S., customers are increasingly saying we don’t want to be part of the tar sands,” Paglia told The Canadian Press.

Paglia admits the U.S. produces heavy oil of its own that isn’t singled out in Forest Ethics’ campaign. But he said the size and environmental impact of Alberta’s oil sands as well as the plans to increase its imports into the U.S. makes it an appropriate target.

Canada is the largest exporter of oil, both conventional and synthetic, to the United States, shipping approximately 1.99 million barrels per day of its 2.6 million bpd production south of the border.

The list of U.S. based refiners processing Canadian bitumen include BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil, as well as Sunoco, Murphy Oil and Marathon Oil.

Forest Ethics’ campaign wasn’t the first against the oil sands sourced gasoline. Last month Corporate Ethics International urged Americans and Britons to “Rethink Alberta” as a polluting, environmentally challenged province rather than a Rocky Mountain tourism destination, reports the Canadian Press.

The news that more retailers were avoiding Canadian crude, raised the ire of Albertans, from politicians to business associations, which called for reverse boycotts of U.S. products.

The Alberta Enterprise Group urged residents to stop supporting retailers that say they have stopped using bitumen-based gasoline but continue to face allegations of using child labor in Asia.

“It smacks of hypocrisy,” David MacLean told the Alberta Herald. “It’s a public relations stunt at our expense, and by ‘our,’ I mean Albertans and Canadians.”

International and Intergovernmental Relations Minister Iris Evans noted the industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the world, and urged consumers to learn more about what Alberta is doing to produce cleaner energy.

“We’ve been talking to a lot of global transportation providers and retailers and a lot of them understand the complexities of not only oil sands, but about removing any type of fuel from the fuel supply,” Janet Annesley, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers told the Calgary Herald. “And they want to work with us to find solutions rather than simply make a PR statement about a boycott.”

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15 thoughts on “Walgreens, Gap, Levi Join Oil Sands Fuel Boycott

  1. Some of our customers have mentioned that they are discussing this with their logistics providers. I’m really impressed with how seriously companies are taking the oil sands discussion. Kudos to companies who are asking questions instead of turning a blind eye.

  2. We invite Levi Strauss Co, The Gap and the affiliates (as well as any other American/international company currently marketing their products in Canada that does not want to accept our “dirty” money) to NO LONGER do business on Canadian soil.
    By all means, purchase your oil from regimes that provide NO human rights or environmental stewardship.
    Don’t let the door hit your “behind” on the way out.


  3. It’s interesting that these hypocritical “green” companies love to do business in wealthy Alberta and don’t seem to mind heating and lighting there businesses with “dirty” oilsands fuel or fueling up there heavy gas using Denali’s and Escalades while pulling there huge holiday trailers all over the country. I wonder how all these environmental freaks such as greenpeace or forest ethics get these supposedly responsible corporations on there side. It’s shameful and appalling how hypocritical these corporations really are . If they have such a problem with Alberta oil, then pull out of Canada and good ridance!

  4. So.

    Levi Strauss and GAP hire sweat labor in Losetho, Africa, and then pump untreated waste and chemicals directly into rivers, killing fish, sickening people.. and then stand arm in arm and point a finger at Alberta.

    Now, apparently, they will be buying oil from Iran because it’s “cleaner”.

    Tell that to victims of 9-11.

    Hypocritical bastards.

  5. How hypocritical and narrow minded Forest Ethics are. Instead of focusing on facts, they are obviously focused on drama.

    If the USA chooses NOT to use oil produced from the Oil Sands, please don’t.

    Please import more oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela or better yet, Iran.

    As well, please consider having BP drill more oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska.

    And please gloss over the huge amount of coal consumed in the USA for the production of electricity. Oh, and don’t forget the heavy oil production and massive amount of shale gas production occuring now in the USA.

    Yes, it’s better to pick on one of the most reliable, most heavily regulated and improving industries in Canada – the Oil Sands.

    You (USA) aren’t neighbors any more. Neigbors help each other. There are many more customers for oil produced in Alberta than the USA. We will ship to them.

    You forget the security you once had – you surely will remember once Saudi Arabia has you in their wire rope again.

  6. Thank you Walgreens, GAP, Levi, and others. That’s what is great about nations that enjoy “freedom” of choice. You choose to make this your priority to not buy our oil… well then I’ll choose (and be vocal with my family and friends) not to support your products. Walgreens, good luck when Rexall puts you under. To the GAP and Levi’s keep up the good relations with the Chinese and Indian slave manufacturers….maybe one day they’ll make enough to buy your crappy products.

  7. To all who are posting here in defense of the tar sands oil:

    Tar sands oil deserves to be vigorously opposed *whereever* it shows up. Canada, the US, anywhere. It is a crime against humanity and the environment to pursue this oil source. It is substantially more GHG intensive than even conventional oil, it wastes incredible amounts of water, and it degrades huge expanses of land.

    Let me be clear: if we continue to pursue tar sands and other “unconventional” forms of oil, we will have zero chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. It is as simple as that.

    So, stop defending this destructive process and start doing everything you can to protest and stop it.

    Learn more here: http://climateprogress.org/2007/10/11/tar-sands-water-energy/

  8. Dear Custom Organic Shirts:

    You are so naive. You ignore the facts about the oil sands. Oil sands make up about five per cent of Canada’s overall greenhouse gas emissions and less than one-tenth of one per cent of the world’s emissions. Oil sands are contained in three major areas of northeastern Alberta beneath about 140,200 square kilometres, with approximately 602 square kilometres of land disturbed by oil sands surface mining activity.

    That’s roughly the size of Florida, with the amount of land disturbed for oil sands mining roughly equivalent to the size of the Kennedy Space Centre.

    Approximately 80 per cent of recoverable oil sands is through in situ production, with less than 20 per cent recoverable by mining.

    Alberta is the only place in North America that regulates GHG emissions from large emitters in the energy sector.

    Alberta’s $2-billion commitment to Carbon Capture and Storage is one of the ways that are being used to move us toward clean energy technology, today.

    Tailings ponds are closely monitored and industry must develop plans to reclaim them. Research in-the-works is looking at ways to eventually eliminate tailings as we know them.

    Just so you know.

    And heaven help us if we’re reduced to selling T-Shirts Made in China for our living – all 350 Million North Americans!

  9. Walgreens is the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S.

    It’s also corrupt.

    For years, they secretly altered their customers’ prescriptions, without their doctor’s knowledge, in a giant insurance scam across 42 states. They targeted Medicaid, the program for low-income Americans. So they were stealing from taxpayers and the poor at the same time. That kind of big thinking is why Walgreens is number one.

    Walgreens replaced inexpensive drugs with drugs that were up to four times more costly. Only when an honest pharmacist finally blew the whistle on them were they stopped — and fined a whopping $35 million.

    Are you ready to take moral lessons from Walgreens? Because they’ve just announced that they’re switching their trucks to fuel that doesn’t come from Canada’s oilsands — as an ethical statement.

    Taking ethical guidance from Walgreens is sort of like taking abstinence lessons from Hugh Hefner.

    I’d call for a boycott of Walgreens, but they don’t have any stores in Canada (and, despite their name, they are no relation to Walmart).

    But Walgreens isn’t the only moral hypocrite to come out against Canada. So did The Gap, which also owns Banana Republic and Old Navy.

    Do yourself a favour: Don’t buy their clothes.

    This applies especially to Albertans, whose jobs depend on the oilsands. There are 26 Gaps, Old Navys and Banana Republics in Alberta. Boycott them.

    But it goes for Ontarians, too, where more people work for the oilsands now than work for the Big Three automakers combined.

    And it goes for anyone with a pension — odds are some of your savings are invested in the oilsands. The Gap could hurt your retirement. So hurt them back.

    Not just because they are boycotting Canadian oil. But because they’ve had their own ethical failings, too.

    In 2008, a shocking TV report out of India showed children as young as 10 working in sweatshops sewing clothes for The Gap. One child had been sold to the factory as a slave, and had not been paid in four months.

    Sorta gives “Baby Gap” a new meaning, doesn’t it? Banana Republic isn’t just a brand name, it’s the location of their factories.

    The Gap claims they were shocked to learn about this. Just like they were shocked a few years earlier to learn their factory in Saipan kept indentured workers in with barbed wire, and bullied pregnant workers into having abortions, so as not to lose time off work.

    They’re shocked a lot over at The Gap.

    And now they say they’re shocked by Canada’s oil.

    But Canada’s oil isn’t produced by 10-year-old kids or abused Chinese women.

    Yet we’re supposed to take moral lessons from the likes of them.

    There is a question the fools at Walgreens and The Gap haven’t answered: Where are they going to buy their gasoline from, if not Canada?

    Saudi Arabia? Could there be a more unethical barrel of oil than one from that racist, misogynistic, terror-sponsoring dictatorship? Venezuela, to enrich strongman Hugo Chavez? Iran, with its nuclear plans?

    We should boycott The Gap because they’re thumbing their nose at us. And because they have used what looks an awful lot like slave labour.

    But we should also boycott them because they’re making an unethical fuel decision: Swapping Canadian oil for Saudi or Venezuelan oil.

    How could you in good conscience give money to someone like that?

  10. Walgreens, GAP, Levi, Timberland – you won’t be selling much product in Alberta in the future. Back pedal all you want Levi – I reckon from now on it will be GWG and Wranglers – great marketing ploy for a company that is still trying to bury their use of child labour by blogging about how bad an idea that is — after you got caught. Seems like you are always reversing your position on “ethics”.

    Well, don’t worry about oil sands fuel. We are building connections to the west coast from Alberta to provide fuel to people who appreciate it. We put the project on hold in the 80’s but the times are changing, our southern neighbours may not want our oil, but our western neighbours do. And we can get our clothing from there too. C’Ya

  11. Dear Custom Organic Shirts:

    You do know that Climate Progress is a bit of a joke – they cut any opposing viewpoints to theirs and they are a mouthpiece for certain global warming alarmist types. You should also read Watts Up With That for a more balanced although slightly skeptical biased viewpoint.

    Check who is behind Climate Progress and then read what is there with that in mind.

  12. Wow, I am little shocked at almost everyone considering only themselves in their responses. Who is speaking for the children who inherit the leftovers of the tarsands? Who is speaking for the environment and displaced animals? As a Canadian, I am glad to see the tarsands boycotted, not that that will do anything to slow it down, money is at stake. The Albertans who responded above are enjoying that money today.

    How short term memory of everyone; we have known about the tarsands for many years but only when it became profitable did the mining start.

    Those who complained about the boycotts may want to reconsider the long term for a second and realize that oil today will be spoil tomorrow. Look around the world at all of the oil rich patches the size of Florida. They are now desolate waste lands of rusting oil equipment. Alberta will see its end and regret its greed, and soon, all of us will reap the results of our bad behaviour towards the environment and short sightedness of consumer economy.

  13. Canada has worked to drop their environmental footprint on Oil production by huge amounts each year. You won’t find the same environmental restrictions and checks from any other oil producing company. They’d rather get their fuel from the middle east where neither environmental issues or human rights are taken that seriously?

    If they’re serious about environmental issues, they should take their semi’s full of merchandise off the roads and look at themselves instead of pointing the finger without real solutions.

  14. I find it irritating that these companies would boycott this oil. Granted it looks horrible in how it scars the earth but at the same time, there are procedures in place that the oil company in Candanda must follow. So in the meantime they want to continue to ensure our yoke to the Middle East oil? I’d rather buy the Candadian Oil anyday. I say boycott Walgreens, Gap and Old Navy… besides have you seen what they do themselves..How about the million pounds of PLASTIC hanger they throw away every day!!! or the cheap slave labor that is used to create their cheap cheap clothing…O God, the list could go on…so where is my decision…I will NOT be shopping at any of these stores…

  15. I’m so sorry that my Walgreens is part of this boycott. Now I’m going to have to boycott Walgreens, this after several decades of being a Walgreens customer.

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