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July/August 2000 Planet Main
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Environment Loses in China Trade Win

Last December, still reeling from the Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO), President Clinton promised that future trade agreements would protect the environment.

In May, he used all his political leverage to pass one that won't.

With Clinton twisting arms - he met with more than 100 legislators face-to-face or in groups, even offered wavering House members an opportunity to join him in a round of golf - the House of Representatives approved permanent normal trade relations with China. The Senate is expected to approve it as well.

Permanent normal trade relations would end Congress' annual review of U.S.-China trade ties, and is part of an agreement paving the way for China to join the WTO. Adding China to the WTO, said Dan Seligman, director of the Club's Responsible Trade Campaign, would "doom efforts to reform undemocratic global trade rules that allow our health and environmental laws to be challenged as 'barriers to trade.'"

Without annual review, the United States would have little leverage to ensure China's compliance with international environmental agreements, such as those protecting endangered species or supporting the human rights of environmental activists - like Peng Ming, the jailed leader of the China Development Union.

As Kansas Chapter Chair Craig Volland told the Kansas City Star, "Environmental activists [are] being put in jail there....If you can't speak out, you can't protect the environment."

Club trade activists rallied from coast to coast against the bill. In Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the Club joined labor activists for a "Don't Hang Us Out to Dry" protest, featuring a clothesline hung with environmental and labor T-shirts and posters of Chinese factories.

More information on trade.

Eight More Sign on to Logging Ban Bill

3+20=87. That was the Sierra Club formula for building support for the McKinney-Leach bill to end commercial logging on federal public lands. In three days, 20 Club activists persuaded eight members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 87. The lobby "week" included trainings, visits with members of Congress and a reception with new Club President Robbie Cox and Reps. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), one of the bill's authors, Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a new co-sponsor.

The other seven are Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), Joe Hoeffel (D-Pa.), Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Karen McCarthy (D-Mo.).

"This campaign is shifting the whole debate over national forests," said Bernie Zaleha, chair of the End Commercial Logging on Public Lands campaign. "People are no longer talking about 'how much' to log on federal lands, they are now questioning whether commercial logging should occur at all."

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