Advocates for public health and environment chide Rep. Blumenauer for trade vote
Groups launch TV ad buy in Portland, Ore. and Washington, D.C. condemning Rep. Blumenauer’s trade vote
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace began running television advertisements in Portland, Ore. and Washington, D.C. condemning Representative Blumenauer’s (D-Ore.) endorsement of the ‘fast track’ Trade Promotion Authority bill — legislation that would expedite approval of large trade agreements being negotiated by the Obama administration;the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
On April 16, fast track legislation sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was introduced. Representative Blumenauer came out in support of Fast Track in a joint op-ed with Senator Wyden in The Oregonian. Representative Blumenauer then joined Representative Ron Kind (D-Wis.) as the only two Democrats to vote for the bill in the House Ways and Means Committee.
“Representative Blumenauer has been an important champion on climate change and the environment, but he is wrong on trade,” said Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica. “There’s a fundamental disconnect between supporting free trade and addressing climate change, eliminating cancer-causing chemicals from products and protecting our food supply. We can’t have ‘environmental champions’ supporting a bad trade deal.”
The groups are concerned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would require the Department of Energy to automatically approve natural gas exports to countries in the deal, which would lead to more fracking around the U.S. and more greenhouse gas emissions. The deals could also strip away government control of energy exports, potentially encouraging more trade of oil and coal.
“Simply put: a vote for fast track is a vote to accelerate the inherently environmentally dangerous practice of fracking for natural gas,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Rep. Blumenauer voted to give foreign oil and gas companies powerful new trade litigation tools to go after the growing grassroots movement to ban fracking in statehouses, county seats and municipalities across the country.”
Particularly contentious are provisions that would allow corporations to sue governments for millions or billions of dollars in ‘damages’ in secretive international tribunals if environmental and health regulations frustrate their business plans and erode their anticipated future earnings.
“Scientists tell us that we need to keep 80 percent of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground,” said Greenpeace Executive Director, Annie Leonard. “There is no way that we are going to be able to achieve this rapid phase-out of the use of coal, oil, and gas if Rep. Blumenauer and other decision-makers vote in favor of an international bill of rights for nationless companies like Shell, BP and Exxon.”