The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the trade deal reached in October 2015 between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations. It would cover more than 40% of global commerce.
The TPP elevates investors’ financial interests above citizens’ and governments’ rights to protect the environment – allowing foreign corporations to challenge U.S. laws that they see as limiting their potential profits.
The sweeping pact would undermine countries’ ability to address climate change by encouraging production and export of fossil fuels like natural gas and crude oil. It would roughly double the number of firms that can go around governments to use the controversial investor-state dispute settlement system to challenge environmental and climate safeguards in extra-legal tribunals.
Because the Obama administration secured Fast Track for the TPP, it must be voted on with an up or down vote, with no amendments allowed. Therefore, IPL urges a no vote. This deal does not serve our national interests, our citizens, or our environment, and undermines the authority of our government.
Expanded rights for multi-national corporations at the expense of the environment and domestic policy-making
The TPP’s extraordinary rights for foreign corporations virtually replicate those in past pacts that have enabled nearly 700 foreign investor challenges to the policies of more than 100 governments. One of these challenges is the U.S. rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, for which TransCanada is claiming U.S. taxpayers should pay $15 billion.
The TPP would nearly double the number of foreign fracking firms that could challenge new U.S. fracking restrictions in private tribunals. These firms are currently fracking in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming.
The TPP would enable oil and gas corporations with nearly 1 million acres worth of U.S. offshore drilling leases to use this private tribunal system to try to undermine new offshore drilling protections.
Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The TPP would directly increase climate-disrupting emissions, and its provisions regarding gas would require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to automatically approve all exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to all TPP countries. It would lead to:
- Offshoring U.S. Manufacturing: The TPP would shift U.S. manufacturing to countries with more carbon-intensive production, such as Malaysia and Vietnam, where production is two to four times as carbon-intensive as U.S. production, respectively.
- Increased Shipping: A TPP-spurred shift in manufacturing from the U.S. to countries on the other side of the Pacific Ocean also would increase shipping-related emissions while outsourcing U.S. jobs.
- Escalated Tropical Deforestation: In TPP member Malaysia, the expansion of oil palm plantations is the primary cause of peat swamp forest destruction. Each hectare destroyed releases up to 723 metric tons of carbon. By eliminating tariffs on oil palm products, the TPP would encourage wider oil palm expansion and deforestation.
- Increased Fracking: Increased gas production would mean more fracking, which causes air and water pollution, health risks, and earthquakes, according to a litany of studies.
- Accelerating Climate Change: LNG is a carbon-intensive fuel with significantly higher life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than regular gas. Increased LNG production and export would increase global emissions.
Faith organizations oppose the TPP
With a shared concern for the integrity of Creation, recognition of the need to protect our climate for future generations, and belief in the sovereignty of the U.S. government, many faith organizations oppose the TPP, including the Maryknoll Sisters, the United Church of Christ, and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
Our country has an important responsibility to lead the world toward a safe climate as well as strengthened democratic institutions. Fighting climate change and stopping the devastation being wreaked on Creation is our sacred task as people of faith. At a time when we need to shift rapidly from fossil fuel dependence to renewable energy, the TPP takes us in the opposite direction. Its adoption could undermine our environmental protections, and put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars to be paid to foreign corporations who claim their profits are reduced by our domestic laws. Ultimately it would speed up climate change, offshore U.S. jobs, and undermine the sovereignty of our government.