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JULY 29, 2002
1:23 PM
CONTACT:  Sierra Club
Zack Roth 202 675 6279
Sierra Club Expresses Disappointment as House Approves Fast Track, Threatening Environmental Protections
WASHINGTON - 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."


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