Obama’s TPP “could undo key global environmental protections”

In General Interest by Jonathan Tasini4 Comments

I was going to write something else about the foolishness of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but, hey, WikiLeaks beat me to it. This dumbness on the part of the Democratic Party to wrap their arms around so-called “free trade”, stretching all the way back to Bill Clinton and his (and, I know people want to conveniently forget, ROBERT REICH’S) passionate embrace of NAFTA, is the sad gift that keeps giving. And, now, another Democrat is happy to walk all over the environment to achieve…what? More stupid trade policy.

According to documents published by WikiLeaks, and described in The New York Times:

The Obama administration is retreating from previous demands of strong international environmental protections in order to reach agreement on a sweeping Pacific trade deal that is a pillar of President Obama’s strategic shift to Asia, according to documents obtained by WikiLeaks, environmentalists and people close to the contentious trade talks.Environmentalists said that the draft appears to signal that the United States will retreat on a variety of environmental protections — including legally binding pollution control requirements and logging regulations and a ban on harvesting sharks’ fins — to advance a trade deal that is a top priority for Mr. Obama.

Ilana Solomon, the director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, said the draft omits crucial language ensuring that increased trade will not lead to further environmental destruction.

“It rolls back key standards set by Congress to ensure that the environment chapters are legally enforceable, in the same way the commercial parts of free-trade agreements are,” Ms. Solomon said. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund have been following the negotiations closely and are expected to release a report on Wednesday criticizing the draft.

To clarify, I disagree with Solomon about the environmental chapters being much to shout about. I’ve pointed out going back a number of years (here is one recent discussion) that the labor standards, or side agreements on the environment and labor, are a fig leaf to obscure the reality that so-called “free trade” agreements are basically about promoting and protecting capital investment, and to hell with people and the planet.

In that context, what the Administration is doing is just appalling.

Hopefully, this bad position gives the senior Congressional Democrats, who have told the president TPP is dead in its current form, some more ammunition.

This is just awful.