Jan 07 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the Senate Finance Committee and the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, discussed the environmental measures in the new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada during a committee markup to vote on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Implementation Act, which is intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The USMCA Implementation Act passed the committee by a vote of 25-3.
“I wish the Trump Administration had not walked away from TPP. The idea that we were leading a 12 nation group for trading that makes up 40 percent of the world’s trade, with China on the outside looking in – and then walked away from that agreement - doesn’t make a lot of sense. But now we have a three nation group making up the trade deal before us today, and is it better than NAFTA? You bet it is,” said Senator Carper.
Senator Carper continued, “I want to commend those who worked hard to make it better. I especially want to commend our Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who worked hard, and I want to commend a number of our colleagues: Senator Sherrod Brown and our Ranking Member Ron Wyden and others – Democrats and Republicans – who have also worked hard to put this deal together. I also want to thank Senators Ben Cardin and Sheldon Whitehouse who worked with me and others on the environmental provisions to make sure that they are not just words on a piece of paper, but that they are enforceable. I understand that the House, with which we worked on a number of these provisions, passed this bill by 385-41, bipartisan support, and I think this measure deserves that same kind of bipartisan support here in the Senate.”
Under the existing NAFTA, non-governmental organizations and individuals in NAFTA countries can submit allegations of environmental violations to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). Submissions undergo a fact-finding process that can produce a factual record if allegations are found to have merit. Critics have pointed out that, under the current system, the production of a factual record is disconnected from any real threat of a meaningful enforcement action. Under this newly created enforcement mechanism spearheaded by Carper and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), when the CEC produces a factual record, the new Interagency Environment Committee – headed by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) – must review the factual record and make a determination within 30 days as to whether environmental enforcement actions under USMCA will be pursued. If the Committee decides not to pursue enforcement actions, it must notify Congress within 30 days of its decision and provide Congress with a written justification for that decision.
A full video of Senator Carper’s remarks can be found here.