TTP & TTIP: Map Shows How Trade Deals Would Enable 'Polluter Power-Grab'

Is a “polluter power-grab” lurking in your backyard?

According to the Sierra Club, one might just be, thanks to two pending trade deals—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—that would allow multinational corporations to exert their power before private tribunals and thwart efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

The environmental organization plotted out the coast-to-coast potential threats on a new interactive map, released Thursday.

It captures over 400 fossil fuel projects, and “for the first time … gives people a chance to see if toxic trade is in their own backyard,” said Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program.

How do the deals enable such a power grab? By way of a corporate-friendly provision included in many trade deals.

In a report released earlier this year, Sierra Club found that TTIP and TPP “would more than double the number of fossil fuel corporations with the power to challenge U.S. policies” such as restrictions on fracking or offshore drilling using the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms.

ISDS, as advocacy group Public Citizen has explained, “empowers individual foreign corporations to skirt domestic courts and sue governments before a panel of three corporate lawyers.” Using these tribunals, as analysts have warned, corporations can demand compensation from the U.S. for lost profits as a result of government actions or policies, thereby supplanting local democracy, workers’ rights, and environmental protections. (In fact, Canadian pipeline company TransCanada is using the Investor Chapter of NAFTA to sue the Obama administration for its rejection of the Keystone XL.)

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The multinationals could demand compensation for lost profits as a result of environmental protections that blocked their projects. Also, the mere threat of such a suit could thwart “keep it in the ground” efforts, Sierra Club says.