Tar sands tycoons sue USA for right to pollute

This video, recorded in the USA, says about itself:

Keystone XL an “act of war” declares South Dakota tribe

19 November 2014

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota says that congressional approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline will be considered an act of war. If given the green light by congress, the controversial project will traverse land under the control of the Native American tribe, which is now threatening to exercise its rights as a “sovereign nation.” RT’s Ben Swann speaks to tribal president Cyril Scott to learn more.

In November 2015, President Obama of the USA stopped the Keystone XL pipeline plan.

Stopped it forever?

Don’t rejoice prematurely. There are secret ‘free trade’ treaties with rules favouring corporate profits over people’s health and the environment. Rules used by the right-wing Japanese government when trying to ram radioactive Fukushima food down the throats of Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean and Singaporese people.

And now Big Oil billionaires act similarly to the Japanese government.

By Guy Taylor in Britain:

Firms suing the US? It’s a taste of our future

Monday 11th January 2016

ENERGY giant TransCanada is suing the US government for cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline project. This is a dramatic example of the powers assumed by the corporate world through trade deals.

Keystone XL was designed to carry tar sands oil from Hardisty in Alberta to Steele City in Nebraska, thus increasing outlets for the most carbon-intensive oil currently produced, and reinforcing the dependency that industrialised countries like the US have on fossil fuels.

TransCanada’s legal case is being brought under the auspices of Nafta, a predecessor of the current crop of free trade agreements TTIP, CETA and TPP, which was negotiated in the 1990s. It poses four alarming propositions for us in Britain.

First, there’s the threat posed by CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) between Canada and the EU. The TransCanada case is a prime example of the Canadian corporate world baring its teeth. As it can no longer build a hugely profitable pipeline to the US, it wants to claim compensation from the US taxpayer instead.

Never mind the environmental concerns of the project, the effects on countryside and animal habitats; there’s money to be made. Politicians need to be very conscious of this when making their minds up whether to support CETA or not when ratification is due later this year.

Firms involved in fracking, drilling, mining and other environmentally damaging practices also look to exploiting the provisions of various trade treaties to further their profit at a cost to taxpayers across the world. This opens up some nice possibilities from the likes of Cuadrilla, which has investment from US corporation Riverstone LLC, and similar fracking companies.

Politicians and the business world are trying to allay concerns of the corporate court system that features in TTIP, CETA and the rest by saying: “Don’t worry, it won’t happen here.” It is. It is happening where we were told it couldn’t. Most trade deals with ISDS (the investor-state dispute settlement), the secretive corporate court system, are between developing countries and the industrialised west.

Of course investment will flow in one direction in these partnerships, meaning Britain or the EU are relatively immune from resulting court actions. Now with these mega deals between Western trading blocks, it’s open season. The attractions of suing rich governments for our tax money are too much for many corporations to resist.

Expect more of this kind of action.

Finally, win or lose for TransCanada, the defending government in any ISDS case is in a lose-lose situation. It is impossible for compensation to be paid to a government in ISDS. 60 per cent of ISDS cases are won by the corporations, 40 per cent defended successfully by the government concerned. That is an excellent success rate for the businesses concerned (law firms are set to make tens of millions from this kind of action). Then there is the question of the costs of defending such a case. According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development legal costs for a government average at about $8 million per suit and in complex cases that figure has been known to exceed $30m.

So, we ask again; why are governments so determined to put future governments and untold millions of pounds of taxpayer money at risk from corporate lawsuits of this type coming to our shores?

Guy Taylor is a trade campaigner with Global Justice Now.

Once unstoppable, tar sands now battered from all sides. Ed Struzik reports for e360: here.

23 thoughts on “Tar sands tycoons sue USA for right to pollute

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