Energy & Environment

Hundreds of green groups tell lawmakers to reject trade deals

Francis Rivera

More than 450 green groups on Monday urged members of Congress to reject two landmark Obama administration trade deals. 

In a letter signed by The Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and others, the groups said the trade deals would benefit fossil fuel producers  and allow them to challenge domestic pollution policies in international tribunals. 

{mosads}The groups cited TransCanada’s plan to sue the United States under a North American trade treaty, and warned that, if instituted, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could lead to similar issues. 

The letter said the deals would allow investors to demand compensation from nations, including the United States, that institute polices threatening their industries.  

“The TPP and TTIP would more than double the number of fossil fuel corporations that could follow TransCanada’s example and challenge U.S. policies in private tribunals,” the letter said. 

“Indeed, the pacts would be the first to allow the world’s largest polluters — including all of the eight largest private greenhouse gas emitters outside of the U.S. — to wield this tool against U.S. climate policies.”

Part of Obama’s pivot to Asia, TPP is meant to bolster trade among the US and several Pacific and Southeast Asian countries. TTIP focuses on trade relationships between the US and European countries.

Congress, the groups said, should reject the former, and negotiators should fix the latter.  

“We strongly urge you to eliminate this threat to U.S. climate progress by committing to vote no on the TPP and asking the U.S. Trade Representative to remove from TTIP any provision that empowers corporations to challenge government policies in extrajudicial tribunals,” the groups wrote. 

Congressional liberals and conservatives alike have lined up to oppose the trade deals. The Obama administration has looked to assuage those concerns: on the environment, the White House notes the TPP includes for protections for wildlife and the oceans, as well as sanctions for those who violate the protections.

The administration has also highlighted other environmental groups’ support for the TPP, and in a statement, a U.S. Trade Representative spokesman said it “includes the strongest environment commitments of any trade agreement in history and upgrades NAFTA by putting fully enforceable environment obligations at the core of the agreement.”

“The United States has never lost an [investor-state] case,” the spokesman added. “We have prevailed in every case in part because we have continued to raise standards through each agreement.”

—Updated at 2:23 p.m.

Tags Friends of the Earth Sierra Club Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

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