1,000 Coloradans implore DeGette to reject Obama trade deal

1,000 Coloradans implore DeGette to reject Obama trade deal

Citing concerns about the environment and job losses, several Colorado groups delivered a 1,000-signature petition to Rep. Diana DeGette today urging her to vote against President Obama’s controversial trade deal.

The Trans Pacific Partnership, the largest trade pact since NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), was signed by the U.S. and 11 other member countries earlier this month. According to its U.S. website, it aims to “help increase Made-in-America exports, grow the American economy, support well-paying American jobs, and strengthen the American middle class.” To do so, it will reduce trade barriers between member nations, which include Japan, Australia and New Zealand, thus making it easier for U.S.-manufactured goods to find a market overseas.

But opponents here at home say it will do more harm than good.

Sam Schabacker of Food and Water Watch compared the potential downfalls of TPP to those of NAFTA.

“The TPP is going to mean the offshoring of jobs for Coloradans. Through NAFTA, we’ve lost upwards of 70,000 jobs, and TPP is going to exacerbate that sort of job loss,” he said.

He’s also concerned about a provision called the investor-state dispute mechanism. First established under NAFTA, it would allow foreign corporations to sue local, state or national governments over policies, like fracking moratoriums or environmental regulations, that harm their profits.

“We’re very concerned that the TPP contains language that has been used in previous trade deals to allow foreign corps to sue local, state and national governments in order to overturn common sense health, safety and environmental protections,” Schabacker said.

Rep. DeGette hasn’t confirmed her position, but says she’s listening to her constituents.

“Two of the questions she considers when reviewing all trade agreements are whether they will have a negative impact on the labor force here in the U.S. or on the environment,” her spokeswoman said in a statement.

Last year, Rep. Jared Polis and Sen. Michael Bennet both cast the deciding votes to speed up TPP legislation. Now that it’s fast-tracked, lawmakers can only vote for or against the pact as Obama introduces it, without making any changes.

Congress will have to decide whether to ratify TPP within 90 days of its introduction, which is expected either this summer or after the 2016 elections.

Photo credit: Sam Schabacker

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