President Obama is pressing for passage of a new trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPP). Leaked sections of the secret deal demonstrate it is light on environmental preservation and heavy on corporate protection.
The TPP would give foreign corporations the right to sue our government if they believe a U.S. environmental law (state, federal, or local) has diminished its ability to make profits. One corporation is already taking action under similar provisions in NAFTA against Canada for a ban on fracking passed in Quebec.
If passed as planned, the TPP will also give special status to countries that will then benefit from automatic approval of liquid natural gas (LNG) export plans. Those countries include Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and New Zealand, with China expected to be added to the list. That means environmental and economic reviews of the impacts of the new LNG construction, operation and export would be by-passed. (More LNG exports means more pressure for shale gas development and fracking; more legal challenges against environmental protection laws means less protection against gas drilling and fracking.)
And to top it off, the president wants Congress to pass a piece of legislation called the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, “Fast Track,” for short. It will give the president super-powers to negotiate his deal in secret, to sign the deal on behalf of the United States, to draft and put it forth before Congress sees the legislation that would modify existing U.S. laws to bring the country into compliance with the TPP. It would relegate Congress to a mere “yay” or “nay” vote: no hearings, no amendments and very little conversation at all. The Constitution of the United States carefully shares authority for international deal making between the president and the Congress; President Obama wants to change all that.
Tell your Congressional representatives to vote “no” on Fast Track and the TPP.
Maya K. van Rossum
Delaware Riverkeeper Network