CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos/THINK PROGRESS
by Samantha Page Mar 9, 2016 10:00 am
40 environmental groups have signed a letter urging Congress to reject the TransPacific Partnership.
It’s something that all the major presidential candidates — on both sides of the aisle — can agree on: The United States should not ratify the TransPacific Partnership trade agreement. Even Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State during the bulk of the agreement’s confidential negotiations, doesn’t think the TPP is a good idea anymore.
Now, a group of environmental advocates is pressuring Congress to reject ratification of the 12-nation agreement, which they say would allow 9,000 companies operating on U.S. soil to sue the government for imposing environmental regulations.
Under the agreement’s investor-state dispute settlement clause, corporations can sue states for thwarting economic expectations. The clause, known as ISDS, allows companies to file claims for damages or lost revenue incurred by rejected permits or a changed regulatory landscape. The claims are heard by three-member tribunals, often made up of corporate lawyers, that operate independently.
Handing foreign companies equal — or even slightly advantageous — ground against the U.S. government, in an extra-judicial tribunal system, is not as far-fetched as it sounds. TransCanada, the company that tried to build the Keystone XL pipeline, represents just one example of how the TPP would work. The company has filed a claim under NAFTA for $15 billion in damages, alleging that U.S. denial of the permit was “arbitrary and unjustified.”
The Keystone suit is really the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we could see if TPP were to pass through Congress.
“For years, environmental and environmental justice groups have been warning against the threat of the TPP,” Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, told ThinkProgress. The Keystone suit is “really the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we could see if TPP were to pass through Congress.”