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  • Stop the Oman Free Trade Agreement

    Oman Free Trade Agreement:

    A Bad Deal for Animals

     

    Unfortunately, on Thursday, July 20th, 2006 the House of Representatives followed the Senate in voting for the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA). This agreement is BAD NEWS for animals:

     

    - Oman has not signed on to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which regulates international trade in wildlife. However, according to CITES reports, Oman is home to 24 species of animals that are threatened with extinction and 189 additional species whose trade must be closely controlled for their survival.

     

    - The Oman agreement continues provisions from previous trade agreements which allow corporations to sue governments if they believe an environmental, labor, or animal welfare protection has inhibited them from making their full profits. This process virtually overrides national sovereignty, the efficacy of democratically created laws and punishes governments if they are trying to protect people or natural resources from being exploited.

     

    -The natural gas reserves in Oman are being used to create aluminum, fertilizer and methanol as well as refine crude oil. The industrial pollution created as a result is negatively impacting the health and populations of sea turtles and endangered fish. Limits on development are specifically prohibited in the Oman agreement, and the expansion of tourism and fisheries on Oman beaches are destroying nesting and feeding locations for various species of sea turtles. With the agreement passed, these industry practices can only be expected to increase.

     

    - Nonhuman animals arenít the only ones who will suffer under this agreement. Public Citizen has stated that ďThe Sultanate of Oman is an oppressive monarchy that has been listed by the U.S. State Department for human trafficking, for severe restrictions on freedom of the press, for harassing human rights activists, for forbidding independent labor unions.Ē Imports of duty-free textiles from Oman will increase and threaten manufacturing jobs in the United States. Many of the manufacturers in Oman use sweatshop labor. It is expected that there will also be an increase in human trafficking of indentured workers from Bangladesh and China to supply the labor.

     

    Itís vital that animal advocates contact our representatives in Congress to thank those Congressmembers who voted AGAINST OFTA and express our disappointment to those for voted FOR OFTA.

     

    Hold your legislators accountable for their vote!

     

    If you arenít sure who represents you in Congress, go to https://community.hsus.org/humane/leg-lookup/search.html to find out.

     

    To find out how your House Representative voted on this issue, visit http://www.vote-smart.org/issue_keyvote_member.php?vote_id=3875

     

    To find out how your 2 federal Senators voted on this issue, visit http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00190

     

    Remember: A Yea vote is BAD and a NAY vote is good!

     

    CALL YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENATIVES:

    Call the U.S. Capitol at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representativeís office.

    When you reach your representative's office, ask to speak to the person who handles trade issues.

    Give your name, say that you are a constituent, and say that you want your rep to vote no on OFTA, an inhumane, anti-animal trade agreement.

    Hereís a sample of what you can say during your call:

     

    If your rep voted FOR OFTA:

    Hi, my name is _______________. I live in______(your city)___ and Iím calling to express my profound disappointment to (Representative/Senator) ___________ for voting for the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA). Iím concerned about the agreementís weak environmental provisions and unlimited investor protections as these could destroy habitats, threaten endangered species, and weaken animal protection laws. OFTA mandates no minimum environmental standards or enforcement of major environmental and species protection agreements. It also allows corporations to challenge US government decisions on federal natural resource contracts. This is unacceptable. I will remember (Rep/Senator)_____ís vote on this issue when (he/she) runs for reelection. Iíd appreciate a statement in writing explaining why (Rep/Senatorís) failed to protect wildlife and their habitat with (his/her) vote on this issue. My address is (your address).

     

     

     

    If your rep voted AGAINST OFTA:

    Hi, my name is _______________. I live in______(your city)___ and Iím calling to express my profound appreciation to (Representative/Senator) ___________ for voting against the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA). Iím concerned about the agreementís weak environmental provisions and unlimited investor protections as these could destroy habitats, threaten endangered species, and weaken animal protection laws. OFTA mandates no minimum environmental standards or enforcement of major environmental and species protection agreements. It also allows corporations to challenge US government decisions on federal natural resource contracts. This is unacceptable. I will remember that (Rep/Senator)_____ís made the right choice and voted to protect wildlife and their habitats when (he/she) runs for reelection. Iíd appreciate any statement in writing (Rep/Senator)______ has on this issue (give your address). But most importantly I just want to express my thanks to (Rep/Senator) ___________ for voting responsibly on this issue.

     

    EMAIL, FAX AND WRITE YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES

     

    SAMPLE LETTER

    ( Send a separate to each of your legislators. Fill in your address, the date, choose Senator or Representative, your legislatorsí name, and choose one or the other of the words in parentheses, depending on your legislatorís vote. Please modify and personalize using the additional info on this issue provided at the top of this alert)

     

    (Your Address)

    Yo(Your City, State and Zip)

    August __, 2006

    (Senator/ Representative) (First and Last Name)

    (Your Legislatorís DC Office Street Address

    City, State and Zip)

     

    Dear (/Senator /Representative) (Last Name):

     

    I am writing to express my (thanks/disappointment) to you for voting (for/against) the Oman Free Trade Agreement because its weak environmental provisions and strong investor protections have grave implications for animals. Oman is home to 24 species of animals that are threatened with extinction and 189 additional species whose trade must be closely controlled for their survival, but Oman has not ratified key species protection agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. OFTA mandates no minimum environmental standards, and there is no aspect of the agreement that would protect these animals in the future.

    In addition, the agreement has provisions to challenge natural resource contracts, service contracts, and infrastructure projects that could result in unchecked development by corporations. Industrial pollution from oil refining and natural gas extraction has already led to the disturbance and destruction of beaches that serve as nesting and foraging sites for a variety of species of turtles including the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. With passage of this trade agreement, coastal development is likely to increase to the detriment of the already threatened wildlife.

     

    Further, implementation of domestic environmental laws already in place can violate commercial obligations under OFTA, resulting in a challenge in binding, privately enforced tribunals run by corporate and government-appointed representatives. The tribunals can demand payment from governments for upholding their own laws and require them to weaken those laws. These provisions are deeply problematic and set the stage for habitat destruction, species exploitation and the weakening of environmental and animal protection laws.

     

    OFTA will also mean more suffering for farmed animals. Unlike the US, Omani farmers have not adopted intensive confinement factory farm agricultural systems, which produce meat more cheaply and cruelly than Omanís traditional farms. By failing to protect domestic producers in Oman while guaranteeing tariff-free market access for US industrial meat and dairy producers, OFTA will encourage US factory farm agriculture corporations to absorb market share from Omanís domestic producers, meaning that more animals will suffer in factory farms.

     

    I will remember your vote on this issue when you run for re-election. Iíd appreciate any statement you can mail me clarifying your views on this issue.

     

    Sincerely,

    (Your Name)

    TO EMAIL:

    Go to https://community.hsus.org/humane/leg-lookup/search.html and find your elected officials. Click on ďSend MessageĒ for your two Senators and your Representative:. Send an email to the attention of your legislatorís aide on trade issues expressing your opinion on your legislatorsí vote on this issue.

     

    TO FAX OR MAIL A LETTER:

    Go to https://community.hsus.org/humane/leg-lookup/search.html and find your elected officials. Click on ďView InfoĒ for your Senators and Representatives and copy their fax numbers and mailing addresses. Write letters to your Representatives and both of your Senators expressing your opinion on their vote on this issue. Put your letter to the attention of your legislatorsí aide on trade issues. Fax and/or mail your letter.

    Global Justice for Animals and the Environment is a project of:
    Wetlands Activism Collective
    Phone: (718) 218-4523
    Fax: (501) 633-34761
    activism @ wetlands-preserve.org