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TransCanada Files Lawsuit Against The US Gov Over Rejection Of Keystone Pipeline

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.
Please sign the petitions below.

Senator Sanders and AFLCIO To Deliver 2 Million Petitions To Reject Social Security Cuts

Organizations Representing Tens of Millions of Americans to Deliver Over 2 Million Petition Signatures Directly to the White House Rejecting Cuts to Social Security Benefits

Will Be Joined By U.S. Senator Who Vows to Block Benefit Cuts

Coalition Includes AFL-CIO, MoveOn.org, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, CREDO, National Organization for Women, Social Security Works, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Democracy For America, Campaign for America’s Future, The Other 98%, Progressives United, Blue America, Rebuild the Dream, Center for Community Change, Health Care for America Now and Others

(Washington, DC)  Senator Bernie Sanders and Reps. Mark Takano and Rick Nolan will join organizations representing tens of millions of Americans to deliver more than two million petition signatures opposing cuts to Social Security benefits to the White House on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. ET.

*Watch Livestream here: strengthensocialsecurity.org/sos

Leading progressive organizations, groups representing retired Americans were quick to denounce the White House proposal for “chained CPI” — which would cut Social Security benefits for millions of seniors and veterans. Grandparents who retire today would get $650 less a year when they are 75 and over $1,100 less a year when they reach age 85, according to the Social Security Administration.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who will join the event, vowed last week to “do everything in my power to block President Obama’s proposal to cut benefits for Social Security recipients through a chained consumer price index.”

WHO:             –Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

-Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)

-Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN)

-Former Obama for America Supporters & Seniors on Social Security

-Stephanie Taylor, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Co-Founder

-Jim Dean, Democracy for America, Chair

-Damon Silvers, AFL-CIO, Policy Director

-Max Richtman, Nat. Cmmte. to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, President and CEO

– Bonnie Grabenhofer, National Organization for Women, Executive Vice President

-Roger Hickey, Campaign for America’s Future, Co-director

-Manny Herrmann, MoveOn.org Deputy Dir. of Online Organizing Platforms

WHAT:          Delivery of more than 2 million petition signatures directly to the White House

WHEN:          Tuesday April 9, at 12:30pm (ET)

WHERE:           1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW – Washington DC (In front of the White House opposite of Lafayette Square)

*Watch Livestream here: strengthensocialsecurity.org/sos

Voters Vote To Overturn Citizens United

Did you get enough of the political ad, flyers, mailers, and radio spots this election? I did (see post), and I do not think I was alone.  Everyone is complaining that money, especially the corporate money, involved in this years election process.   Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has been leading the charge against the Citizens United ruling.  Sen. Sanders is the sponsor of the Saving American Democracy Amendment.

“Amazingly enough, we withstood the assault. We withstood the hundreds of millions of dollars that came in from these billionaires,” Sanders said after the election. The money spent by billionaires to influence the election was not enough to topple President Obama. Others in Congress survived the financial onslaught too. But he said a constitutional amendment still is needed.” Sen Bernie Sanders

This year voters voiced their agreement with Sen Sanders in elections across the country.  The two biggest amendments were:

  • Montana’s Initiative 166Stand with Montanans, establishes an official Montana policy that corporations are not people with constitutional rights and charges Montana’s elected officials with supporting a constitutional amendment to create a level playing field in campaign spending.
  • Colorado Amendment 65 instructs Colorado’s congressional delegation to propose and support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that allows congress and the states to limit campaign contributions and spending that allow all citizens, regardless of wealth, to express their views to one another on a level playing field.

Both of these amendments were aimed at limiting campaign contributions and ‘corporate personhood’. While this is good for the people in these states, we need more.  We need to craft legislation to overturn Citizens United ruling.  Sen Sanders fears that Congress will not have the strength to stand up to the corporate money.

“I worry very much what it does on the floor of the House and the Senate. How many people are going to have the guts to stand up to big money when they know that the airwaves in their states are going to be flooded with negative ads if they vote against Wall Street or vote against coal or oil? So I would say that one of the major issues that we’ve got to deal with is Citizens United. I think we need a constitutional amendment to overturn it. I think it would be a wonderful rallying point for folks all over this country.”

I completely agree with Senator Sanders. We need to reverse Citizens United and remove the corporate money in our political system.  We need all of elected representatives to stand up for the ‘real’ people and reject the ‘corporate’ people.

Watch Senator Bernie Sanders as he proposes his Constitutional Amendment to reverse Citizens United. Then take one minute to sign his petition. 

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