Whatcom View: Trans-Pacific Partnership a challenge to environment

Washington state is again being drawn into a bad decision by deals between corporations and our elected representatives. President Obama, along with 11 other countries, has just signed the biggest trade deal in our history. In order to pass, the Trans-Pacific Partnership now must be ratified by Congressional vote, which could happen as early as this spring.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership would expand the very trade rules under the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allowed the Canadian big oil company TransCanada to challenge the rejection of the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline. NAFTA’s Investor State Dispute Settlement rules permit companies to sue national or local governments when their decisions challenge the corporation’s expected business plan. These corporate-friendly rules have allowed TransCanada to demand $15 billion for telling them no on Keystone XL. The Trans-Pacific Partnership could make us pay for the oil industry’s next bad idea.

Additionally, Trans-Pacific Partnership would expand this dangerous system to thousands of new foreign-owned firms, including some of the world’s biggest polluters, nearly doubling the number of foreign corporations that could follow TransCanada’s bad example and challenge our climate protections in private tribunals. We can’t let that happen.

As you read this the U.S. Trade Representative is gambling with our jobs, our clean air, our clean water and our future by signing the polluter-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s not worth the risk. Signing this toxic Trans-Pacific Partnership is an affront to the communities, clean air and water, and climate that would be threatened by the deal’s polluter-friendly rules.

It’s more important than ever before to urge Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We came together to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline, and we will defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This deal was written in the interests of corporate lobbyists in the “other Washington;” now we need our elected officials from Washington state to stand up to these dangerous trade rules that will let corporations challenge our environmental victories, and vote no on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Judith Akins is chairperson of the Mount Baker Group, Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club.