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Climate champ Rep. Blumenauer casts unacceptable Fast Track vote

Climate champ Rep. Blumenauer casts unacceptable Fast Track vote

Today  our sister group Friends of the Earth, along with Food & Water Watch and Greenpeace, began running television ads in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C. condemning Representative Blumenauer’s (D-Ore.) endorsement of the ‘fast track’ Trade Promotion Authority bill — legislation that would expedite approval of large trade agreements being negotiated by the Obama administration: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

On April 16, fast track legislation sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was introduced. That day, Rep. Blumenauer came out in support of Fast Track in a joint op-ed with Senator Wyden in The Oregonian. Rep. Blumenauer then joined Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) as the only two Democrats to vote for the bill in the House Ways and Means Committee.

With this vote, Blumenauer, typically a solid advocate for environmental protections and strong climate policy, chose instead to support trade deals that would generate further climate pollution. In a statement, Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said: “There’s a fundamental disconnect between supporting free trade and addressing climate change, eliminating cancer-causing chemicals from products and protecting our food supply. We can’t have ‘environmental champions’ supporting a bad trade deal.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would likely require the Department of Energy to automatically approve natural gas exports to countries in the deal, leading to more fracking around the U.S. and more greenhouse gas emissions. The deals could also strip away government control of energy exports, potentially encouraging more trade of oil and coal.

They also contain especially worrisome provisions that would allow corporations to sue governments for millions, potentially billions, of dollars in “damages” in secretive international tribunals if environmental and health regulations frustrate their business plans and erode their anticipated future earnings.

Friends of the Earth Action and other environmental groups are asking that people let Rep. Blumenauer know his support for Fast Track was a mistake by texting BAD DEAL to 69866.