U.S. and Canada-based environmental groups have filed a petition with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior under the Pelly Amendment, a statute that allows the U.S. President to impose trade restrictions against countries that engage in trade which diminishes the effectiveness of an international program to protect threatened or endangered species.

The petition claims that Canada has not put in place mechanisms in its oilsands regulatory regime that would prevent or mitigate harm to woodland caribou, whooping cranes and other species of migratory birds. The petition further claims that such omissions have diminished the effectiveness of international efforts to protect those species such as the Migratory Bird Convention of 1916 and the Western Hemisphere Convention of 1942.

Under the Pelly Amendment, the Secretary of Interior must now determine whether Canada’s actions have diminished the effectiveness of these international conservation efforts. If the Pelly Amendment application is certified by the Secretary of Interior, the President may direct the Secretary of the Treasury to prohibit any imports to the extent such prohibition is sanctioned by NAFTA or the World Trade Organization, and shall notify the U.S. Congress of any such actions.