July __, 2006

July __, 2006

 

Dear Representative _____________:

 

I am writing to ask you to OPPOSE 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 (CITES). 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 traditionall 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.

 

Please vote NO on this inhumane agreement.

 

 

Sincerely,

___________________


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