New NAFTA is a Climate Disaster: Why does Warren Vote Yes?

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign messaging proclaims that she will take climate change seriously. Her campaign website decries, “… right now, Washington refuses to lift a finger without permission from the fossil fuel industry. That’s dangerous and it’s wrong. We need a government that makes different choices — a government that will stop handing out enormous tax giveaways to big oil companies, and stop refusing to invest in our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.”

That sure sounds right!

So why is it that Warren has just given her “Yes” vote to a trade agreement that includes a huge benefit for the fossil fuel industry? This is the new NAFTA trade deal, called the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). The final version of the bill includes provisions that will make it cheaper to export Canadian tar-sands oil, will give corporations more power to undercut Mexico’s environmental policies and will allow foreign companies to challenge proposed regulations in the U.S. or request the repeal of existing rules. Ten environmental organizations sent a letter urging Congressional representatives to vote against the proposed deal. If ratified by Canada, the revised deal will allow corporate polluters to sue Mexico in private tribunals if new environmental policies undercut their government contracts for offshore drilling, fracking, oil and gas pipelines, refineries, or other polluting activities. Defending her “yes” vote on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Warren said, “Look, this is not a great arrangement, it’s a better … it’s an improvement over where NAFTA stands right now.” This is classic “congress”.

We say to Warren and her Democratic Party: You say you understand that we are in a climate crisis, and that you will use trade agreements as a cudgel to protect the environment. Then you give incentives to fossil fuel companies to move their carbon emitting fuel across borders to reach new markets, protect their subsidies, and allow them to sue to prevent protections to the environment. These lies are typical of your Party. We need a massive movement which understands that you can’t help but lie to us. When we have it, we will push back against the systematic destruction of our world.

Featured image source; credit: Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0