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UPDATE: Tar sands a violation of the Western Hemisphere Convention and the Migratory Bird Convention

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”1918″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image size-medium wp-image-10650 alignright”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”240″,”height”:”180″,”title”:”tar sands pollution”,”alt”:””}}]]A joint media release states, “Today, conservation groups represented by Earthjustice and Ecojustice Canada submitted a petition to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to report to President Obama that Canada’s destructive tar sands extraction undermines international efforts to protect endangered and threatened species. …An American law known as the Pelly Amendment requires the Secretary of the Interior to determine whether foreign activities are weakening treaties that protect threatened species – in this case the Western Hemisphere Convention and the Migratory Bird Convention. If so, Interior must report those conclusions to the President, who is then authorized to take action such as trade sanctions to discourage such activities.”

“The petition documents how tar sands mining and drilling in Alberta is harming at least 130 migratory bird species, including endangered whooping cranes, as well as threatened woodland caribou herds. …Tar sands exploitation impacts wildlife in many ways. Oil extraction creates toxic wastewater pits up to three miles wide. Waterfowl and shorebirds, mistaking these pits for natural ponds, land in the contaminated water and become oiled. They then drown, die from hypothermia, or suffer from ingestion of toxins. Toxic chemicals from tar sands operations also leak into wetlands and forests, contaminating important habitat for migratory birds. The strip-mining of more than one million acres of forests and wetlands in Alberta’s boreal forest would also result in the loss of important breeding habitat for millions of birds.”

“The associated construction of wells, roads, refineries and other infrastructure destroys critical habitat for threatened woodland caribou in the tar sands region, which have declined more than 50 percent over their last three generations. Habitat disruption and fragmentation — due in large part to tar sands activities — are the driving forces of this population decline…”

Conservation groups on the petition include the Council of Canadians, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defence, ForestEthics, and Voices for Progress.