By Arthur Stamoulis for Citizens Trade Campaign
We talk a lot about how the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement would offshore jobs, drive down wages and increase inequality. Among other serious problems, the TPP also poses major threats to environmental progress.
This month, an unprecedented 450 environmental organizations joined forces on calling on Congress to reject the TPP over its threat to our air, water and climate. We need your help ensuring that Congress understands that its not just environmental groups who oppose the TPP, but also their constituents.
Later this week, we’ll be joining our environmental partners in delivering hundreds of thousands of messages from people across the country urging Congress to oppose the toxic TPP.
There’s a reason so many environmental groups are speaking out against the TPP today. After years of secretive, back-room negotiations, when the text of the TPP was finally revealed, we learned it was even worse for the environment than had been expected.
Not only does the TPP fail to mention the term “climate change” in its thousands of pages, but it actually rolls back environmental enforcement provisions found in all U.S. trade agreements since the George W. Bush administration, requiring enforcement of only one out of seven environmental treaties covered by Bush-era trade agreements.
Under the TPP, exports of fracked natural gas would automatically be deemed in the public interest, bypassing certain key environmental and economic reviews, if going to any of eleven TPP countries throughout the Pacific Rim — including Japan, the world’s largest importer of natural gas. The TPP is likely to increase energy costs for U.S. consumers and manufacturers, while simultaneously exposing Americans to the localized environmental consequences of fracking and the world to increased global warming pollution.
Worse still, the TPP’s controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions would enable transnational corporations to attack environmental laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent the U.S. judicial system and any other country’s domestic judicial system.
Under the World Trade Organization (WTO), portions of the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act have already been successfully challenged under similar “trade” provisions that grant this type of power to foreign governments. The TPP would go beyond the WTO by giving individual corporations the power to initiate these types of attacks.
Right now, a number of smaller Free Trade Agreements and Bilateral Investment Treaties already grant these powers to transnational corporations — and they are being used to attack clean air rules in Peru, mining laws in El Salvador, a provincial fracking moratorium in Canada and a court decision against the oil giant Chevron in Ecuador, among many other examples. Expanding this system throughout the Pacific Rim would only increase the commonplace of these challenges.
Finally, many of the TPP’s much-touted new conservation rules are a joke. These extraordinarily weak provisions do things like obligating countries to “exchange information and experiences” and to “endeavor not to undermine” conservation programs, rather than requiring them to ban destructive practices.
With the rising threat of climate change and all the environmental challenges the world faces, we can’t afford a massive, standard-setting pact that would actively undermine environmental progress.