Why should any Texas enviro care about trade? Let me tell you a bit about what the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is, and why you should be concerned as a boot-wearing Southern green activist.
Today through May 18th in Dallas, as negotiators representing nations and corporations from across the world meet behind closed doors for the 12th round of talks on the TPP, a coalition of union members, environmentalists, occupiers, and consumer advocates will be there to shine a light on the backroom deal.
The TPP is a massive, new international trade and investment pact between the United States and countries throughout the Pacific Rim like Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Peru, Australia, and eventually Japan. Instead of being debated out in the open, the TPP has thus far been negotiated in the shadows. Approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have been given special “cleared advisor” status to review negotiating documents and advise negotiators. Meanwhile, the general public has been barred from even reviewing what U.S. negotiators have proposed in our names.
So how does this tie into the Texas environmental community? Texas is home to the Barnett and Eagle Ford shales – some of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas. Countries participating in TPP negotiations rely heavily on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG), and stand to benefit from provisions in TPP that would open the floodgates for expanded US production and exports of LNG. In a recent letter to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the Sierra Club’s natural gas and labor & trade departments urged Kirk to ensure that the TPP does not allow for export of substantially increased quantities of domestic liquefied natural gas (LNG) without proper analysis and adequate protections for the American public.
Furthermore, we are concerned about language in previous FTAs that lets foreign corporations sue governments directly — in private and non-transparent tribunals — for unlimited cash compensation over almost any domestic law (environmental or otherwise) that the corporation argues might hurt its profitability.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune discussed this issue in a recent blog post citing:
“By the end of 2011, corporations (including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Dow Chemical, and Cargill) had brought 450 disputes worth hundreds of millions of dollars against the governments of 89 countries. Many of those cases directly targeted environmental and other public interest laws.”
If you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, come rally and march with us in order to let negotiators know that Texans want fair trade that protects both our environment and workers, and that we won’t get fooled again by bad trade deals.