Editor's Note: In recent months, many climate activists have focused their efforts on Canada's tar sands and the companies set on extracting fossil fuels from them. With the debate raging louder than ever, Rolling Stone is in contact with one of the workers helping to build a pipeline to bring oil from the tar sands to the U.S. Read on for that anonymous correspondent's first dispatch from one of the world's most controversial jobs.
There's something in the air in Fort McMurray, Alberta – and it's not just fumes from the massive oil sands processing plants north of town. Spend enough time here, and you'll pick up the pungent scents of machismo and money.
This is the heart of Canada's controversial tar sands operation. If all goes as planned, this region will soon be sending its bitumen – the sticky, black petroleum byproduct colloquially known as "tar" – down the Keystone XL Pipeline. President Obama has yet to give the contentious project the green light, but work in the oil sands shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
The region has 80,000 permanent residents, and hosts about 40,000 temporary workers at any given time – welders, pipefitters, heavy equipment operators, technicians, engineers and other hired hands who pass through Fort McMurray as the work ebbs and flows. I joined them this winter when, after hearing stories about Fort Mac for years, I signed on to help build a massive pipeline (not the Keystone XL). I was eager to see the tar sands for myself, experience life in Fort Mac firsthand – and, let's be honest, I wanted to make some oil money, too. I'm writing this story anonymously to protect my friends, my colleagues and myself.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/undercover-at-the-tar-sands-20130426#ixzz2daYhzh3q