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  Sierra Magazine
  November/December 2008
Table of Contents
Ice Manliness Cometh
A Six-Dog-Power Engine
I (Heart) Snowshoeing
Skiing Yellowstone
Welcome Back to the World
Rotten Fish Tales
Big Fun in the Green Zone
Hey Mr. Green
Comfort Zone
Mixed Media
Last Words
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Sierra Magazine

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Lay of the Land

Three Strikes, You're Hired | Ten Reasons to Oppose "Fast Track" | No Net Loss? No Comment | Spreading Their Wings | Costly Corn | Deadly Winter for Monarchs | It Pays to be Popular | Honor Thy Father | Sprawl | WWatch | Bold Strokes | Updates

Ten Reasons to Oppose "Fast Track"

By Reed McManus

To expedite new trade agreements, President Bush wants Congress to grant him "fast track" authority-the power to negotiate trade pacts and submit them to Congress for an up or down vote. Here's why speed isn't everything:

1. Fast track would prevent Congress from changing or amending trade deals, even if those agreements hurt the environment, labor rights, or public health.

2. It's contrary to the U.S. Constitution. The founders gave trade authority to Congress, the branch of government closest to the people.

3. Trade authority would move from Congress to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which is beholden to corporate interests.

4. It would expand trade deals that make it easy for foreign companies to sue the United States if our environmental laws interfere with their profits. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadian methanol manufacturer Methanex has challenged a California law banning the carcinogenic gasoline additive MTBE, which contains its product.

5. It could rob U.S. taxpayers. If Methanex wins its case, the U.S. Treasury may have to pay up to $970 million in damages.

6. Fast track could be used to expand trade agreements that would prevent poor countries from improving their environmental laws.

7. It could spread the "Enron virus" around the world. The World Trade Organization, created with fast track authority, has imposed on other nations the same deregulated accounting practices that allowed Enron to hide its liabilities.

8. Fast track is supported by legislators hostile to environmental protection laws, among them Republicans Bill Thomas of California (League of Conservation Voters score: 7 percent) and Dick Armey and Tom DeLay of Texas (LCV scores: tied at 3 percent).

9. Fast track is opposed by champions of environmental laws, including Democrats Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Lloyd Doggett of Texas, and Republican Ben Gilman of New York (all with LCV scores of 93 percent), and Robert Matsui (D) of California (LCV score: 100 percent).

10. Negotiating environmental safeguards in trade agreements would be up to President Bush, who earned an LCV grade of D- on the environment during his first year in office.

The House of Representatives narrowly passed "fast track" legislation in December. Tell your senators we need "right track" trade policies instead. For more information, go to the Sierra Club's "Responsible Trade" Web site.

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