TransCanada Lawsuit Over Keystone Pipeline Heightens Fears Of Future Free-Trade Agreements
This week news broke that the Canadian company behind the Keystone XL pipeline is using the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to compel the United States to pay $15 million dollars or allow them to build the rejected pipeline. Using the ISDS to force the United States to build the Keystone Pipeline heightens fears brought forward by Senators Warren and Sanders of the expanded use of the ISDS in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Politico reports in, “Obama hit with NAFTA challenge over Keystone pipeline” that TransCanada has filed two challenges to the rejection of the pipeline by the US State Department and the Obama administration.
“The legal challenges are unlikely to undo the rejection by Obama, but they may yet revive the lengthy political battle over the controversial Canada-to-Texas pipeline that shook up the oil industry and helped the White House cement its environmental legacy,” wrote Politico.
“…Under NAFTA, disputes between companies and foreign governments must go before an international tribunal with the power to award monetary damages — but not reverse the pipeline’s rejection. A win by TransCanada would mark the first U.S. loss in the international dispute system used under NAFTA, which has come under fire from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other liberal critics of free-trade deals,” Politico continued.
Bill McKibben, co-founder of climate activist group 350.org, said in an email to Politico that the NAFTA challenge “is going to remind Americans how much of our sovereignty these treaties give away.”
If TransCanada can use the ISDS to force the United States to mandate that construction of the Keystone Pipeline what could other countries force the US to do?
Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke directly to the provisions of the ISDS in the newly proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership back in February of 2015.
“This provision fundamentally tilts the playing field further in favor of big multi-national corporations, worse yet it undermines U.S. sovereignty,” said Warren.
“If a Vietnamese company with U.S. operations wants to challenge an increase in the U.S. minimum wage it can use ISDS,” continued Warren. “If an American labor union believes the Vietnamese companies are paying slave labor wages in violation of trade commitments, the union has to try to wind itself through the Vietnamese courts. Good luck with that.”
Even the head of CATO Institute Trade Policy said, [ISDS] “Raises serious questions about democratic accountability, sovereignty, checks and balances, and the separation of power… These concerns about ISDS are ones the Libertarians and other free market advocates should share.”
These massive giveaways to multi-national corporations are just one of the many reasons conservatives and progressives alike should oppose the TPP.
“Progressives should oppose ISDS because it allows big multi-nationals to weaken labor and environmental rules,” concluded Warren. “So long as TPP includes Investor State Dispute Settlement the only winners will be international corporations.”
Please help us to encourage Senators Shaheen and Ayotte to rescind their previous support of the TPP and vote against the TPP legislation when it comes up this year. We would like to thank Congresswoman Annie Kuster for standing against this disastrous trade agreement and encourage her to stand strong.
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