In a gift to his big-money labor union donors just before Christmas, Jay Inslee sent a letter to the US Trade Representative last week trying to slow down negotiations on pending free trade deals.
Evidently, Inslee forgot that Washington is the most trade-dependent state in the country.
Or, maybe, our green governor just remembered that big labor put millions into his last campaign and he that has to keep his eye on the fundraising ball, regardless of how it hurts Washingtonians.
Eastside Sanity says
Comrade Inslee holds his boot on the people’s throat of his motherland.
Interestingly, this post contains no actual quote from Gov. Inslee. Let’s click on the link, and see if we can understand why. First, there’s this actual text from Gov. Inslee’s letter:
In its current form, the liabilities of investor-state provisions outweigh their potential value. It certainly appears that we are susceptible to losing a case if the legal reasoning used in favor of U.S. investors under certain cases in the past were to be applied against our country’s policies in the future.
Well, that certainly sounds like it could be a worthwhile concern. Have other countries experienced problems?
Recent trade challenges include lawsuits by a Swedish nuclear power producer against Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown; a $2 billion lawsuit by U.S. tobacco giant Philip Morris against Uruguay for their requirement that cigarettes are sold in plain packaging, which has already resulted in a weakening of the regulations; and a $250 million lawsuit against Quebec’s moratorium on fracking under their principal waterway, the St. Lawrence Seaway, by a fracking company incorporated in the U.S. but with all of its operations in Canada. More than 500 dispute settlement claims have been filed and the number is growing rapidly.
Hmmm… do we want foreign tobacco companies having the power to file suit against our own Indoor Clean Air Act, which we Washington state voters passed by popular Initiative in 2005? After all, it would be hard to deny that forbidding smoking in taverns and restaurants has hurt tobacco sales.
“States maintain many nondiscriminatory regulations to advance important policy objectives that are not related to the quality of service at issue, including those related to environmental protection, land use, labor standards, fair competition and economic development. U.S. law generally permits states to pass nondiscriminatory rules related to such considerations that may burden economic transactions, as long as a rational basis for these rules can be demonstrated. Adopting a necessity test could alter this basic principle and improperly replace it with a standard less deferential to state authority.”
No green state likes corporations being able to challenge policies that hurt their profits but it also relates to how our economy is affected by government policy. New York’s ban on high sugar products, or gun control issues. Inslee does not like these challenges and wants to block them from stopping his policies???
Inslee does not like these challenges and wants to block them from stopping his policies???
The language enabling these challenges was inserted with neither debate nor public notice:
… has been quietly included in trade agreements over the last few decades that significantly expands the rights of foreign investors by allowing foreign corporations to sue governments when regulations reduce future profits, by creating corporate-friendly tribunals to hear these claims; and by setting standards that put investor rights above public interest.
So, my question, below, remains valid: do we want foreign tobacco companies having the right to sue — not in our own courts, but in a corporate-friendly tribunal — to overturn our citizen-approved Washington Indoor Clean Air Act? Gov. Inslee says no, and I agree with him. What do you say?