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The Planet
March 1999 Volume 6, Number 2


MAI Stopped. For Now.

We warned readers several times last year about the ominous Multilateral Agreement on Investment, a proposed 29-nation treaty that would have made it easier for foreign investors to purchase tangible assets, such as timberland or mining rights. The Club opposed it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that foreign companies could sue taxpayers for compensation when any local, state or federal law - land-use restrictions, for example - infringed upon their profits.

For the moment, the MAI is dead. Opposition from citizens in the United States, France, Canada and other nations helped stymie the negotiations, as did disagreements among participating nations.

But stay tuned. Many of the same dangerous provisions are likely to reappear. U.S. and European trade negotiators plan to move MAI talks into other venues - such as the Geneva-based World Trade Organization.

New Hurdle for Highway

So many apparently dead road projects have come back to life that Utah Chapter activists are not stocking up on champagne yet. But the Legacy Highway, which the Club has been fighting with gusto since it was proposed by Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) in 1997, did suffer a potentially fatal setback early in 1999 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it intended to veto any highway project across Great Salt Lake wetlands.

This means that even if the Army Corps of Engineers approves the highway, the EPA can still stop it.

"The EPA's veto threat is certainly damaging to the highway," said Utah Chapter Chair Nina Dougherty. "We are a long way from victory, however, because the governor is expected to use all of his influence to lobby the Clinton administration and Utah's Congressional delegation to build it."

Swamp Settlement

On Feb. 5, DuPont agreed to halt plans for a titanium mine on the eastern boundary of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia.

Environmental groups, led by the Sierra Club, have been fighting the proposed mine because of its potential impact on the swamp, one of the world's largest remaining wetland ecosystems.

The two-page agreement, signed by 20 representatives of DuPont, environmental groups and local governments, also includes the addition of 10,000 acres of land to the Okefenokee refuge, retirement of mineral rights and the construction of a world-class research and education center to study the swamp. Next step: Find funding to pay for it.

Go on to the next article, "Club Beat."
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