This week more than 450 organizations joined to ask Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because of provisions that would allow corporations to sue governments over laws and regulations that might restrict their profits. The groups are concerned that fossil fuel companies will be able to use these provisions to contest environmental rules designed to cut emissions of carbon into the atmosphere.
Reuters has the story in “Groups urge U.S. Congress to reject TPP over environmental concerns“:
The groups, most of them environmental organizations, warned that companies could challenge U.S. environmental standards in tribunals outside the domestic legal system under provisions of the 12-nation TPP and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe.
… “We strongly urge you to eliminate this threat to U.S. climate progress by committing to vote no on the TPP and asking the U.S. Trade Representative to remove from TTIP any provision that empowers corporations to challenge government policies in extrajudicial tribunals,” the groups wrote in the letter to every member of Congress.
[. . .] The letter says approving the deals would enable fossil fuel companies to use “investor-state dispute settlements” to demand compensation for environmental rules through cases decided by lawyers outside the U.S. judicial system.
The groups noted that in January, Canadian energy company TransCanada asked for a private tribunal through the North American Free Trade Agreement to seek compensation exceeding $15 billion, after Obama last year rejected a permit for its Keystone pipeline, citing global warming concerns.
This is not a far-fetched concern. During the (secret) negotiations that led to TPP, leaks of the progress of the agreement showed that tobacco companies would be able to sue governments that tried to help people quit smoking, because this would hurt tobacco-company profits. The leaks resulted in a “tobacco carve-out” that allows governments to help people, but the fact that tobacco companies had been enabled like this showed how these provisions enabled egregious corporate dominance over governments.