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The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: The Biggest Free Trade Pact You May Never Have Heard of

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a massive free trade agreement being negotiated between the United States and ten countries across the Pacific Ocean. Despite the huge impact the agreement would have on the environment, economy, and more, the TPP is being negotiated in near complete secrecy with very little input from the public.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the negotiations, there is a lot we do know about how this pact if completed and approved by Congress would impact our climate and environment.

First, a leaked version of one of the chapters on investment confirms that the TPP will include provisions that give corporations the right to sue a government for unlimited cash compensation, in a private tribunal over nearly any law or regulation that a corporation argues is hurting its expected future profits. While that sounds impossible, to date, corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Dow Chemical have launched more than 518 cases against 95 governments using similar rules in other NAFTA-style agreements. Many of these cases directly attack environmental and climate policies policies, such as efforts to phase-out toxic chemicals, stop dangerous mining practices, or reduce reliance on coal and nuclear energy.

Second, TPP would require that the US Department of Energy approve all natural gas exports to countries in the agreement without modification, conditions, or delay. The TPP, therefore, would allow for significantly increased exports of liquefied natural gas without the careful study or adequate protections necessary to safeguard the American public. This could mean an increase fracking and increased natural gas exports out of the Pacific Northwest. At a time when our public officials are calling for a "time out" on energy exports so the U.S. can come up with a policy on exporting our energy, this would fly in the face of what is in our country's best interest.

Many other issues, such as the illegal wildlife trade, coal exports, illegal timber trade, jobs, the price of medicines, and more could all be impacted by the TPP. The good news is, there is still time to get engaged, raise your voice, and express your concerns to your member of Congress.

If you are interested in learning more about this agreement and ways to get involved, please see www.sierraclub.org/trade .