TransCanada are suing the US Government for $15 billion for rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline. That’s $15 Billion of YOUR tax dollars. This is happening now under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and much more of this is promised if new ‘free trade’ deal the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is passed.
Yesterday, TransCanada filed its NAFTA “arbitration” request arguing the U.S. violated its “expectations” and now should pay over $15 billion for rejecting a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. It is NAFTA’s private tribunal system (investor-state dispute settlement or ISDS) that will “arbitrate”, a system not accountable to our legal system, and one authorized under the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). If the host country “violates” rights granted to the corporation under a trade agreement, then the investor may bring the matter before an “arbitration tribunal.”
The ISDS is a new legal system for only foreign investor/corporations, it is not available to “nations, domestic investors, or civil society groups alleging violations of treaty obligations.” ISDS panels do not have to follow legal precedent and its decisions cannot be appealed to a court. The ISDS arbitrators are not public servants, but “highly paid corporate lawyers [who] go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next” in secret proceedings. (For more on these corporate tribunals, please see earlier post: TPP: Corporate ‘Tribunals’ Bad for People, Environment & Climate Justice.)
THIS is how the cross border permit system has worked under Executive Orders. EO 13337 gives the American people a right to comment on permit applications: “The Secretary of State may provide for the publication in the Federal Register of notice of receipt of applications, for the receipt of public comments on applications, and for notices related to the issuance or denial of applications.” The Secretary of State is then required to consider public comments (and also views of others, like federal agencies). And THEN “After consideration of the views obtained pursuant to paragraphs (b) and, as appropriate, (e) and (f) of this section and any public comments provided pursuant to section 3(a) of this order, if the Secretary of State finds that issuance of a permit to the applicant would not serve the national interest, the Secretary shall notify the officials required to be consulted under paragraph (b)(ii) of this section of the proposed determination that the application be denied.”
And so we submitted our public comments. Millions of public comments at the federal government website, and commented publicly with articles, blogging, protests on the streets. We worked to bring online activists onto the streets with civil disobedience. We did blogathons at DK for public comments and civil disobedience (and Senator Sanders and other lawmakers joined in)
This is how democracy works. We discussed climate change, environmental issues, public health, and Shouldn’t We Know Whether Tar Sands Causing Cancer With First Nations Before XL Pipeline Decision? as well as Racist ‘Sacrifice Zones’ With XL Pipeline are Grounds Alone for Rejecting Permit. And Senators Boxer & Whitehouse Ask Sec. Kerry For Comprehensive Health Impacts Study On XL Pipeline.
The problem is that NAFTA (and TPP) doesn’t like democracy or the rule of law. ISDS allows corporations to bully nations and people into changing or watering down policies in order to prevent ISDS actions demanding our taxpayers pay over $15 billion because our President rejected TC’s plans to pollute and harm our environment, wildlife, waters, and natural resources, sicken and kill us… all in the name of corporate greed.
ISDS negates the rule of law, democracy and allows polluting fossil fuel corporations to extort money from taxpayers to pay for not allowing them to harm us. Maybe this BS NAFTA extortion action will convince more people that TPP is wrong too.