Environmental Concerns About the TPP

As the TPP negotiations continue to wind their way through the legal and legislative system, many of the environmental concerns expressed have largely gone ignored or stayed out of the mainstream of the public’s awareness.  This course of action; of not informing the public or politicians giving people tacit assurances, happened with the NAFTA agreement in the 90’s.  The NAFTA agreement allowed companies to avoid environmental regulation by moving their operations to out of country localities in Mexico that bordered their US market.

In the 90’s, Republicans made little effort to hide this fact and often blamed the over regulatory environmentalist lobby for moving companies out of the United States.  People bought this line and thus the NAFTA trade agreement moved through Congress and became law.  But now after many years the environmental damage of NAFTA is now a generally undisputed fact, even though most people are not aware of the extent of pollution that effects every living creature within its wake.

Now we have a public much wiser to consider the ramifications of these open trade agreements. Most people realize that these agreement enable mutli-national corporations to fatten their pockets while doing sometimes irreversible damage to our vital natural resources.  Mexico and South America has suffered with polluted water ways and land, habitat of humans and animals is constantly threatened and even our own planetary breathing apparatus; forests, are being stripped away permanently for the hardwoods they contain (many taking hundreds of years to grow).

The Citarum River, the biggest river in West Java, Indonesia provides drinking, cleaning and ... / Credits: Reuters

Here are some studies on NAFTA’s affect on environmental regulation and the environment as a result:

NAFTA : 20 Years of Costs to the Community and the Environment

Public Citizen: NAFTA’s Broken Promises, 1994-2013

Multinational Monitor – 1993 – NAFTA and the Environment: Free Trade and the Politics of Toxic Waste

New Report Reveals Environmental Costs of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 2014

According to a short summary from the National Geographic, a leaked copy of the draft TPP already shows the extent to which business interests have trumped preserving the health of people and the planet.   Check out their resport, 4 Ways Green Groups Say Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Hurt Environment

The environmental group 360.org has a petition up based on the very specific and disconcerting charge that the TPP will put into law the ability of fossil fuel producers to sue town, city and state governments that impose environmentally conscious rules or ordinances aimed and cutting fossil fuel consumption.  This of course is translated in market speak as “if climate action hurts their profits”.  In other words, the profits of global corporations matter more than our planet staying alive.  In addition, fossil fuel companies have managed to negotiate that the government should prevent environmental oversight of fracked gas imports.
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/06/12/3669269/pelosi-bashes-fast-track/

Friends of the Earth also points up a couple other troubling areas about the TPP’s possible effects on the environment.

effectively banning the regulation of chemicals used in food production such as pesticides and other compounds and enabling rules and proofs (such as cost-benefit analysis requirements before regulation could be put in place –effectively placing profit before the health of the planet and people) that regulation would not hurt the company’s bottom line.

changes in how regulatory bodies enforce rules in the treaty also effect the ability of any enforcement at all; provide for the ability to corporations to sue municipal bodies for attempts at regulation that slow down their profit stream.  The sweeping of this change is the proposal to install international regulatory bodies that would supersede the authority of United States courts.  This basically would mean that international “tribunals” would come together to install their own regulatory mechanisms and they would only have to follow the lowest-common denominator for the standard to putting in place environmental regulation in the first place.

Public Citizen, a washington watch-dog group also points up the extensive intellectual property protections inserted into the trade agreement. These protections, written by and for global corporations, would mandate the international recognition of genetic patents on living things such as plants and animal life.  This would enable corporations to place ‘ownership’ on living organisms, allow them to create and modify living organisms as they please and allow their marketing worldwide.  This threatens the integrity of our international food supply and most seriously threatens the natural practice of sustainable farming and creates a frightening dependency on corporate commercial power for our food supply.  No group of individuals or corporations should have the ability to control the food supply globally, but this trade agreement will do just.

Already American farmers have suffered the bullying tactics of Monsanto and other seed companies in an obvious strategy to create a captive market for their seed product.  While Monsanto currently uses the court system as a means to force monopoly of their product, the TPP will in fact put into law what they now must fight case by case in court.

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