MS Industries, a small energy company in the southern United States, has been buying up thousands of acres in Alabama and drilling those acres, reported ThinkProgress.

But why the drilling? Alabama isn’t known for fracking. The reason for the incessant drilling is to test whether the area is suitable for tar sands excavation. Within the 2,500 acres purchased by MS Industries, there are around 2,700 drill holes as noted by the residents. However, MS CEO Steve Smith said there’s only a little over 1,500.

The frenzy first began in July 2013 when Republican Govs. Phil Bryant (MS) and Robert Bentley (AL) decided to open up their states’ land to energy company ravaging and exploration.The following January, Gov. Bentley announced the Alabama Oil Sands Program to “begin the study and research” of oil sands deposits in Alabama.

One of the areas targeted my MS is Colbert County, Alabama in the northwestern part of the state. Resident Cecilia Hicks said that once Bentley opened up the land, the harassment and lies started. A real estate agent called Hicks stating interesting in purchasing some of Hicks’ land.

“She said she was local and had a customer who was interested in it,” said Hicks. “I told her I wasn’t interested.” ThinkProgress further noted that the agent then attempted to contact Hicks’ stepson, each offer increasing after another.

Oil sands refining is a booming industry in Canada and is part of the controversy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama has yet to disapprove. Open pit mining and in-situ drilling are the two ways oil sands are separated and processed, both of which are detrimental to the environment and public health.

MS claims to have its own proprietary method of oil sand processing, but it isn’t known whether or not their method is any safer and environmentally-friendly than open pit mining and in-situ drilling. One thing is for certain, residents near tar sands sites are at higher risk for health issues.

Because tar sands production fills the air with benzene, propane, ethane, and other lethal chemicals, nearby residents have reported increased cases of blood cancer. Such is true in Alberta, Canada, the largest production site in that country. Last year, the World Health Organization added cancer to the list of health risks associated with breathing polluted air.

Oil sands production ravages the landscape, pollutes the environment, and endangers lives, and these southern GOP governors are going to allow that to happen to their states and people.