Trade and Keep It In the Ground Letter

Re: Pending Trade Deals Threaten Efforts to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground

Dear Member of Congress,

To protect our communities and avoid disastrous levels of climate change, the U.S. must boldly act to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Recent decisions – such as protecting the Atlantic coast from offshore drilling, enacting a moratorium on new coal leasing on U.S. public lands, banning fracking in New York, and rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline – have made progress toward this critical end. Such fossil fuel restrictions must be expanded to adequately safeguard our communities and climate.

However, two pending trade deals pose major barriers to this climate imperative. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as proposed, would empower an unprecedented number of fossil fuel corporations, including some of the world’s largest polluters, to challenge U.S. policies in tribunals not accountable to any domestic legal system. There, the firms could use the trade pacts’ broad foreign investor rights to demand compensation for U.S. fossil fuel restrictions. These “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) cases would be decided not by judges, but by lawyers who typically represent corporations.

We strongly urge you to eliminate this threat to U.S. climate progress by committing to vote no on the TPP and asking the U.S. Trade Representative to remove from TTIP any provision that empowers corporations to challenge government policies in extrajudicial tribunals.

In January, TransCanada – the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline – illustrated that the climate threats posed by such trade deals are real. The company announced it would use the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to ask a private tribunal of three lawyers to order the U.S. government to pay more than $15 billion – more than $100 from every individual U.S. tax return – as “compensation” because President Obama rejected a pipeline that threatened oil spills and increased climate disruption.

But the TPP and TTIP would more than double the number of fossil fuel corporations that could follow TransCanada’s example and challenge U.S. policies in private tribunals. Indeed, the pacts would be the first to allow the world’s largest polluters – including all of the eight largest private greenhouse gas emitters outside of the U.S. – to wield this tool against U.S. climate policies. The fossil fuel firms that would gain this right are currently fracking on our public lands, drilling for oil off our shores, building liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals on our coasts, running refineries in our cities, and operating fossil fuel pipelines and trains in nearly every region of the country. No previous trade deal has given such broad rights to corporations with such broad interests in maintaining U.S. fossil fuel dependency.

Fossil fuel corporations are increasingly using ISDS under existing trade and investment pacts, contributing to a recent surge in cases. In fact, half of the new ISDS cases launched in 2014 targeted policies affecting oil or gas extraction, mining, or power generation. Law firms specializing in ISDS are now explicitly advising corporations, including fossil fuel firms, to see ISDS as a “tool to assist lobbying efforts to prevent” unwanted policies, as threats of costly ISDS cases can chill policy proposals.

By empowering many more firms to launch ISDS cases against the U.S., the TPP and TTIP would pose a major threat to efforts across the country to restrict fossil fuel activities, including these:
• Fracking: The TPP and TTIP would undermine efforts in various states to restrict the dangerous practice of fracking by granting ISDS rights to more foreign fracking firms than all 56 existing U.S. trade and investment pacts combined. The threat is real – a gas corporation named Lone Pine Resources is currently using NAFTA’s nearly identical foreign investor rights to ask an ISDS tribunal to order compensation from Canada for a fracking moratorium in Quebec.
• Offshore drilling: The TPP and TTIP would empower oil and gas corporations with more than 10 million acres’ worth of U.S. offshore drilling leases – one out of every three leased acres – to use ISDS threats to resist offshore drilling restrictions, posing a threat to coastal communities and the climate. That is 24 times more area than that leased to firms with existing ISDS rights.
• Oil and gas extraction on public lands: The TPP and TTIP would allow corporations with leases for oil and gas drilling on over 720,000 acres of U.S. public lands to launch ISDS cases against U.S. federal leasing restrictions, undercutting our ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
• Fossil fuel pipelines: The TPP and TTIP would enable corporations that own tens of thousands of miles’ worth of fossil fuel pipelines in at least 29 states to go to private tribunals and, like TransCanada, demand billions of dollars for delays or denials of dangerous pipelines.

The TPP and TTIP’s unprecedented expansion of U.S. ISDS liability would similarly threaten efforts to protect communities from fossil fuel trains, LNG terminals, refineries, and other fossil fuel hazards.

Much of the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves are on or adjacent to Indigenous lands and territories. Unfortunately, the nation-states engaged in the TPP and TTIP agreements have not strongly defended Indigenous land rights and Indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consent. Ultimately, such trade deals grant more rights to transnational corporations, often at the expense of Indigenous rights, undermining special protections of Indigenous lands and cultural resources. For Indigenous peoples wanting a just economic transition away from oil and gas development, these deals pose severe risks to their sovereignty and ability to self-determine their futures as nations and tribal citizens concerned about the climate, health, and environmental impacts from fossil fuels.

We strongly urge you to stand up for healthy communities, clean air and water, Indigenous peoples, property rights, and a stable climate by committing to vote no on the TPP and asking the U.S. Trade Representative to remove from TTIP any provision that empowers corporations to challenge government policies in extrajudicial tribunals.

350 Bay Area
350 Central Virginia
350 Colorado
350 Conejo / San Fernando Valley
350 DC
350 Eugene
350 Loudoun
350 Louisiana
350 Madison
350 Maine
350 Missoula
350 Plattsburgh
350 Santa Barbara
350 Santa Cruz
A Glimpse of the Wild
Aaath Co.
Adirondacks NY Mothers Out Front for a Livable Climate
Advocates for Snake Preservation
Alaska Applied Sciences, Inc.
Alaska Climate Action Network
Alaska Inter-Tribal Council
Allegheny Defense Project
Alliance for Democracy
Alliance for Democracy – Portland OR
Amazon Watch
Angelica Foundation
Animals Are Sentient Beings, Inc.
Arise for Social Justice
Arnold Piacentini, Pro Se
Asamblea de Gonzales
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Athens County Fracking Action Network
Atlantic Energy Ltd
Battle Creek Alliance
Be the Change
Berks Gas Truth
Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE)
Black Oak Wind Farm, LLC
Bold Nebraska
bottomup economy
Breast Cancer Action
Breathe Easy Susquehanna County
Bus For Progress
Campaign for Renewable Energy
Carmelite NGO
Cascadia Wildlands
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
Catskill Mountainkeeper
Center for a Sustainable Coast
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Earth Ethics
Center For Food Safety
Center for International Environmental Law
Center for Media and Democracy/PRWatch
Center for Popular Democracy
Center for Sustinable Economy
Center of Concern
CEO Pipe Organs/Golden Ponds Farm
Chatham Research Group
Chico Peace and Justice Center
Citizen Gas & Oil Advisory Lobby
Citizens Against Ruining the Environment
Citizens Climate Lobby
Citizens Coal Council
Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community
Citizens’ Environmental Coalition
Citizens for a Clean Harbor
Citizens for Global Solutions
Citizens for Sanity.Com, Inc.
Clean Air Watch
Clean Energy Action
Clean Water for North Carolina
Cleveland Environmental Action Network (CLEAN)
Climate 911
Climate Action Alliance of the Valley
Climate Action Now Western Mass
Climate First!
Climate Solutions
Coal River Mountain Watch
Coalitions of Mutual Endeavor
Columbia Divest for Climate Justice
Community Research
compressor and pipeline opposition in Windsor ma.
Conejos Clean Water
Conservation Congress
Cook Inletkeeper
Cooperation Jackson
Corporate Accountability International
Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment
CT Progressives
Clean Up the River Environment (CURE)
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Divestment Student Network
Don’t Waste Arizona
Dream of the Earth
Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition
Earth Care
Earth Care International
Earth Day Initiative
Earth Day Network
Earth Ethics, Inc.
Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light
East Africa Climate Change Network
East Bay Community Solar Project
Eco-Justice Collaborative
Ecology Party Florida
Elders Climate Action
Endangered Habitats League
Endangered Species Act Coalition
Endangered Species Coalition
Energy Action Coalition
Energy and Policy Institute
Environment, Economics and Society Institute
Environmental Action
Environmental Justice Center at Chestnut Hill United Church
Environmental Justice League of RR
Environmental Youth Council St Augustine
EPIC- Environmental Protection Information Center
Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition
Fairmont, MN Peace Group
FLOW (For Love of Water)
Flush The TPP
FOGH (Friends of Grays Harbor)
Food & Water Watch
Food Democarcy Now!
Food Empowerment Project
Forest City 350
Fossil Free Northwestern
Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice
Frack Free Colorado
FreshWater Accountability Project
Friends of Hudson
Friends of Merrymeeting Bay
Friends of the Bitterroot
Friends of the Earth – US
Fund for Democratic Communities
GAIA: Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Gas Free Seneca
Generación +1
Global Exchange
Good Business Association of Rochester
Grand Riverkeeper/LEAD Agency, Inc.
Grassroots Environmental Education
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Grays Harbor Audubon Society
Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
Green America
Green Map System
Green Neighbors DC
Green Sanctuary Committee, CCNY, UU
Green Sanctuary Task Force of the UU Church of Bloomington, IN
Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice
Greenbelt Climate Action Network
Greenpeace USA
Guemes Island Environmental Trust
Gulf Restoration Network
Harford County Climate Action
Health Care Without Harm
Hilton Head for Peace
Holy Cross International Justice Office
Honor the Earth
Idle no more SF Bay
Indigenous Environmental Network
Inspiration of Sedona
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program
Interfaith Moral Action on Climate
It’s Not Garbage Coalition
Kauaians for a Bright Energy Future
Kentucky Environmental Foundation
Kids Climate Action Network
Klamath Forest Allaince
Klamath Riverkeeper
Labor Network for Sustainability
League of United Latin American Citizens
Leave it in the Gound Initiative (LINGO)
Lehigh Valley Gas Truth
Liology Institute
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
Long Branch Environmental Education Center
Los Alamos Study Group
Louisiana Environmental Action Network
Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper
Maine Fair Trade Campaign
Malaw National Youth Network on Climate Change
Mangrove Action Project
Mercy Ecology, Inc
Midwest Environmental Advocates
Milwaukee Riverkeeper
Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light
Minnesota Public Interest Research Group
Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG)
Monroe County of NY for Bernie Sanders
Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance
Mountain Watershed Association
Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project
National People’s Action
New Energy Economy
New Place Fund
No Fracked Gas in Mass
North America Rising Tide
North Country 350
NYC Friends of Clearwater
Ocean Conservation Research
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC)
Oil Change International
Peace and Freedom Party
Peninsula Interfaith Climate Action
People Demanding Action
People of Albany United for Safe Energy – PAUSE
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Arizona
Physicians for Social Responsibility/New York
Physicians for Social Responsibility-Philadelphia
Popular Resistance
Prince William Soundkeeper
Protect All Children’s Environment
Public Citizen’s Climate and Energy Program
Public School Teacher
Rachel Carson Council
Rainforest Action Network
Redwood Alliance
Renewable Energy Long Island
Resident Allied for the Future of Tioga
RikkiTikkiTekki, LLC
River Guardian Foundation
Rochester Pachamama Alliance
Rogue Climate
Russian Riverkeeper
Safe Climate Campaign
San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society
San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Santa Cruz Climate Action Network
Save Our Sky Blue Waters
Science & Environmental Health Network
Sierra Club
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Congregational Leadership
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Western Province Leadership
Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Justice Team
Sisters of the Holy Cross Congregation Justice Committee
Slow Food USA
Soil not Oil Coalition
Somerville Climate Action
Southwest Workers Union
Stone Quarry House
Stop the Frack Attack Advisory Council
Students for a Just and Stable Future
Sunflower Alliance
Sustainable Energy & Economy Network
Sustainable Medina County
Sustainable Tompkins
Tar Sands Action Southern California
TEDX, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange
Texas Drought Project
The Comite Civico Del Valle
The Compression Institute
The Enviro Show
The Green Resource Hub of the Finger Lakes
The Lands Council
The Mad Scientists’ Research Society
Thomas Merton Center Environmental Justice
Tikkun & The Network of Spiritual Progressives
Tonantzin Foundation
Toxics Action Center
Toxics Information Project (TIP)
Transition Express Inc
Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)
Turtle Island Restoration Network
U.S. Climate Plan
UK Tar Sands Network
Unitarian Universalist Church In The Pines
United for Action
United Sludge Free Alliance
Uranium Watch
UU Binghamton Green Sanctuary Committee
UUCB Social Justice Committee
VOICES of St Tammany: Against Fracking
Voices of St. tammany
Wall of Women Colorado
Wasatch Clean Air Coalition
WCL Environmental Law Society
West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Air and Safe Jobs
West County Toxics Coalition
Western Nebraska Resources Council
Westlake Democratic Club member
Wica Agli
Wild Virginia
WildEarth Guardians
Wilderness Workshop
Wisconsin Environmental Health Network
Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN)
Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)
Women’s Voices for the Earth
World Faith Malawi
Yolo MoveOn
Youghiogheny Riverkeeper

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