- July 29 - The Sierra Club expressed strong disappointment today after the House
of Representatives narrowly approved dangerous trade legislation. By a razor-thin
margin of 215-212, and only after a rare lobbying visit to Capitol Hill by President
Bush, the House passed the fast track bill, which will prevent Congress from fixing
future trade deals, even when they threaten the environment.
"Now more than ever, Americans
want Congress to hold corporations accountable, not give them more breaks,"
said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "The House's capitulation
to powerful business interests could jeopardize many of the environmental protections
Americans take for granted."
Fast track will allow the Bush administration
to extend NAFTA across the western hemisphere. Provisions in NAFTA allow foreign
corporations to sue the U.S. government whenever they feel that our environmental
protections affect their profits. Already, a Canadian chemical company has used
NAFTA to sue the US government for $1 billion, jeopardizing a vital California
clean water law. Extending NAFTA would greatly increse the number of these claims,
and threaten crucial environmental and public health laws.
"Here in California, we fought
hard to keep our drinking water safe from dangerous toxic chemicals. But that
progress could be undone by NAFTA's corporate-friendly provisions," continued
Pope. "Now thanks to the House vote, many more environmental protections
across the country could soon be under attack."
Rejecting fast track would not have
limited our ability to enter international trade agreements. It simply would have
allowed Congress to weigh in on those agreements, to prevent them from running
roughshod over the environment. That safeguard no longer exists.
"We can have a trade policy
that is clean, green, and fair, but not by handcuffing our elected representatives,"
added Pope. "The Bush administration now must take care not to put international
trade on a collision course with the need to protect our environment."