MAY 20, 2013
Maine Rep. Sharon Treat, 
Iowa Rep. Charles Isenhart
563-557-1261 (in district); 515-281-3221
South Dakota Rep. Frank Kloucek, retired
Vermont Rep. Mike Yantachka 

May 20, 2013
WASHINGTON DC -- Today, more than 50 state legislators from 24 states sent a letter to the Acting US Trade Representative, Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, expressing deep concerns about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would impact the environment, energy, and natural resources in their states and in other countries in agreement. The letter comes as the US is in the midst of the 17th round of TPP negotiations in Lima, Peru.   
In the letter, the state legislators wrote, "While we understand and appreciate that the United States is advocating for an ambitious and legally binding environment chapter of the TPP, we are deeply concerned that other parts of the agreement, including provisions on or related to investment and energy exports, threaten the environment and our responsibility, as legislators, to serve and protect our constituents." 
The concerns addressed in the letter include:
1. The need for an ambitious and binding environment chapter of the TPP that protects the environment, natural resources, and U.S. jobs, including a ban on the trade of illegally harvested timber, a ban on trade in illegally taken wildlife, and binding provisions on sustainable fisheries management.

2. Provisions in the TPP allowing investor-state dispute settlement, which would undermine the ability of local elected officials to enact and enforce fair, non-discriminatory rules that protect communities, workers, and the environment.
3. Language in the TPP that would increase exports of liquid natural gas by requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to approve all US gas exports to TPP countries -- even if exports are not in the best interest of the public -- essentially overriding the DOE's ability to manage natural gas exports so as to protect the interests of communities and the environment.  

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is NAFTA on steroids.  If provisions allow corporations to sue state and national governments over laws and regulations that negatively impact their profits, it won't matter what laws we pass to protect our citizens and our environment," stated Vermont Rep. Mike Yantachka, who sponsored a resolution on the TPP and the environment which recently was enacted by the Vermont House and Senate (J.R.H. 12; details of the resolution are posted here). 
"This is too important and far reaching not to get exactly right. The environmental chapter can't just be the "10 Suggestions".  Binding understandings are necessary to protect the quality of our own, our children's and our grand children's lives," said Maine Representative Ann Peoples.
"Based on legal challenges that have been made under other international agreements, questions could be raised about many other state and federal programs, Iowa Representative Charles Isenhart said. "Food safety laws, country-of-origin meat
labeling, government procurement and renewable energy incentive programs could be at stake."
Maine Representative Sharon Treat, Co-chair of the Maine Citizen Trade Advisory Commission, stated: "It is critical that environmental regulations not be undermined by provisions in the TPP that seek to 'harmonize' standards and allow foreign corporations to challenge domestic laws in binding arbitration panels.  State legislators have a particular interest in how the TPP will operate. In our federalist system, U.S. state governments share environmental regulatory authority with the federal government, and must have the flexibility to develop more ambitious environmental policies in the future."
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade pact currently being negotiated by the United States and 10 other countries across the Pacific Rim. Because the TPP is intended as a "docking agreement," other countries can join over time, and Japan has already announced its intention to join the talks. It is similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, only the scale and scope of the TPP could make its impacts much more severe.  Governments want to conclude this trade pact by October 2013. 
Read the full letter, which remains open for additional signatures, here.