Through a little-known provision called "investor-state dispute settlement," the TPP will elevate foreign corporations to the nation status. This gives corporations the unbridled power to challenge virtually any policy, including environmental protections, which they think will harm their profits. The TPP then allows these businesses to sue governments in private trade tribunals for unlimited compensation.
That greedy corporations will take full advantage of these powers is a no-brainer. ExxonMobil and Chevron have already used similar rules in other trade deals to initiate more than 500 lawsuits against 95 governments. One such case currently under way involves a U.S. oil company suing Canada, under the North American Free Trade Agreement, for $250 million because the province's reasonable moratorium on fracking might hurt their ability to rake in more profits.
Utahns, and all Americans, should be concerned that TPP may also increase fracking the dirty, dangerous petroleum extraction technique that brings along its own set of environmental hazards in Utah. Thanks to TPP, for example, the U.S. would have to automatically approve all exports of fracked gas to countries in the agreement, thus opening the floodgates for fracking in our state and country and sacrificing our air and water quality. Utahns have already seen how fracking threatens our air, contaminates precious water, and spoils special places like the San Rafael Swell. Frankly, Americans can't afford to see any more.
As trade negotiators meet and craft the terms of the trade pact, they must keep these significant risks in mind.
Recently, watchdog organization Wikileaks released the full draft text of TPP that deals with intellectual property. This draft revealed that the pact is expected to reduce access to critical, life-saving medicines for those in need. But almost the entire pact, including its chapters on the environment, is still kept under lock and key.
Utahns, and all Americans, are right to voice their displeasure about TPP. This treaty must be unveiled so that the American public has meaningful input on the terms of this pact that will have a severe and long-lasting impact on American families' food, water and air, and the stability of our climate.
Steven M. Thiese, Salt Lake City, serves on the executive committee of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club.