If you choose to not turn tar sand into oil you get (insert picture of green pasture).
That comment makes no sense. Tar or asphalts are simply longer chained hydrocarbons. The tar sands simply have more long chain hydrocarbons than say WTI. But WTI has long chained hydrocarbons also, just not as in high concentrations as the tar sands.
The fundamental concept that you are missing is that the tar sands WILL get produced and those molecules will be cracked into products you and I use everyday as long as the price per barrel of WTI is around $70 per barrel.
If the tar sands are going to be produced, those molecules will find a market. In order to find a market they need to be transported. The modes of transportation are numerous depending on the terrain between the producer in Canada and he refiner (on the Gulf Coast, middle east, China, etc.) The tar sands can be transported by rail, pipeline, trucking, shipping tankers, car, bicycle, big wheel, etc. It just so happens that the safest and most environmentally risk adverse mode of transportation is pipeline and it's not even close. The incidents per unit volume by pipeline transportation is staggeringly low. It's analogous to airplane transportation versus automobile transportation. Airplane transportation is muuuuuuuuuuch safer.
That picture illustrates a typical pipeline right-of-way. If you didn't get it, it's a rather benign mode of transportation. In fact you are surrounded by pipelines: Image: http://www.theneweditor.com/uploads/MapofUSpipelines.jpg