So-called tar sand oil, the dominant type of Canadian crude, is an international issue because of the global environmental threats, an activist said.
Hundreds of environmental advocacy groups posted messages on their Web sites Monday protesting a measure before the Canadian Parliament they say would substantially water down environmental laws.
Environmental groups, such as the National Resources Defense Council, say pipelines planned from oil fields in Alberta province, like the Keystone XL pipeline, make Canadian oil an international issue.
"When you look at tar sands, it's an international issue because of its impact in Canada, the U.S. and on the climate," NRDC Director Susan Casey-Lefkowitz was quoted by the McClatchy-Tribune news service as saying. "Also, with the oil industry pressuring the Canadian government to go after environmental groups and laws in Canada, they can do it (in the United States) next."
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, an oil-sands supporter, drafted a budget measure he says will remove some bureaucracy from environmental legislation and strengthen pipeline safety laws.
Critics said the measure would silence those opposing oil sands. They say tar sands is more energy-intensive to produce and more difficult to clean up than conventional crude oil.