Stop Fast Track: Reject Pacific & Atlantic trade deals
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The activists and campaigners of Friends of the Earth are having considerable success this year in beating back Fast Track trade promotion legislation in Congress. The bill would grant President Obama power to sign two sweeping trade deals that threaten people and the planet — even before Congress has a chance to vote on them. Global corporations and Wall Street investors are pushing the Fast Track legislation in order to grease the skids for approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan and other Pacific Rim countries and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. These deals are not so much about trade as they are about deregulation and forcing governments to pay corporations and wealthy investors for the cost of complying with environmental and other public interest safeguards.
If members of Friends of the Earth continue to call and write their representatives in Congress, we can with our broad coalition of allies stop any move to slip the Fast Track bill through in the final, chaotic days of this congressional session in December. But, that will not be the end of the struggle. 2015 will be the make or break year for Fast Track, TPP and TTIP.
We need to keep the pressure on Congress and remind its members of their constitutional duty. The founders intended for Congress to set policy for our international trade agreements. Fast Track legislation for presidential trade negotiating authority effectively delegates congressional prerogatives to a U.S. Trade Representative’s office under the influence of Wall Street and international corporations. Fast Track legislation would sharply limit Congress’ role in trade policy by forcing the TPP and TTIP deals through on a quick up or down vote, with no amendments. This is unacceptable. We sent our senators and representatives to Washington to stand up for us, not to give away their authority.
This Fast Track process is especially dangerous because the TPP and TTIP deals are negotiated behind closed doors with the assistance of almost 600 corporate and Wall Street representatives who are official cleared advisers to the U.S. Trade Representative, Mike Froman, a former Wall Street insider himself. The negotiating text of the agreements is a state secret. The public and press are kept in the dark.
We do have some idea of what is in the TPP and TTIP negotiating text thanks to WikiLeaks and others who have received secret documents from disillusioned insiders. We also know the general negotiating objectives for governments and corporations. Here are a few of the most dangerous provisions in the Pacific and Atlantic deals.
Investment tribunals. Investment chapters in the TPP and TTIP would allow firms to sue governments for millions or billions in money damages if environmental or public health regulations interfere with expected future profits. This would discourage government action like restricting oil and gas drilling, imposing pollution controls, limiting the use of fracking (hydraulic fracturing), or even stopping construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Pesticide deregulation threatens bees. The TTIP could thwart U.S. and European efforts to stop the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides. Neonics are a leading cause of bee declines. Europe has temporarily banned the use of three neonics, and cities across the U.S. have taken steps to eliminate them. But, chemical companies like Syngenta and Bayer want to use the TTIP to roll back this progress and stop future action to save the bees.
Deregulation of chemicals. TTIP could “harmonize down” effective European chemical regulations so that they approach low federal standards in the U.S. In coming years, TTIP could stymie congressional action to more effectively regulate chemicals associated with breast cancer, autism and infertility. More immediately, it could undercut more effective toxic chemical regulation currently on the books in California and other states.
Undermining climate policy. Ambassador Froman and the Republican congressional leadership are hell-bent on using TPP and TTIP to increase U.S. coal, oil and gas exports to the world that are fueling global warming. For example, Froman apparently has already been successful in challenging an EU fuel quality directive that would limit shipments to Europe of dirty tar sands oil, including that which would flow through pipelines like the proposed Keystone XL system for export from U.S. ports. A leaked European proposal for TTIP energy provisions similarly would expand fossil fuel exports from the U.S. to the EU. The TPP is, in the same way, designed to protect “free trade” in dirty energy products such as tar sands oil, coal from the Powder River Basin, and liquefied natural gas shipped out of West Coast ports. The result would be more climate change from carbon emissions across the Pacific.
GMO labeling at risk. TTIP could open the door for U.S. exports of genetically engineered goods into Europe, where market access is currently restricted — or at least labeling is required — because of safety concerns. It could also undercut GMO labeling initiatives in the U.S.
Corporate control of the genetic code. Leaked text of TPP intellectual property provisions protects patents on plants, animals and other life forms, giving corporations monopolies over the use of parts of the genetic code that have evolved naturally and are part of our common natural and human heritage,
Food safety compromised. EU food safety measures were targeted as trade barriers in a USTR report, including restrictions on imports of beef treated with growth hormones, chicken washed in chlorine, and meat produced with growth stimulants. Conversely, the Europeans could use TTIP to attack higher U.S. standards related to mad cow disease.
Favoring corporate profits over the intrinsic value of nature. Both the Pacific and Atlantic deals would encourage cost-benefit analysis of environmental and health regulations. This is at odds with a fundamental principle of environmental regulation: application of the precautionary principle in the face of an immeasurable environmental risk. It is also an attempt to attribute a price to the intrinsic value of human life, living things and nature itself. Environmental standards would be lowered if the undervalued “benefit” of protecting nature is outweighed by the “cost” to corporate profits.
We need your help, this year and in 2015, to stop these trade deals from being rushed through Congress.
Please visist http://www.stopfasttrack.com/. Call your representatives.Tell them not to Fast Track the Pacific and Atlantic trade deals.