Stephanie Low first heard about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade act about a year ago, and she hasn't stopped organizing since.
"I was in shock for three days," says the New York City resident and Sierra Club activist. "I just got incredibly angry and decided that they will not get away with this."
The TPP is a trade agreement that the Obama administration is negotiating with ten other countries -- 11 when Japan joins, as is soon expected. It's being negotiated mostly in closed-door meetings, but its implications are becoming more widely known thanks to hard-working activists like Stephanie.Four major concerns about the TPP for activists like Stephanie, our Sierra Club Responsible Trade Program, and thousands of other Americans are as follows:
1) It would allow corporations to sue a government over virtually any law or regulation that a corporation argues is hurting its profits.
2) It would allow a significant increase in liquefied natural gas exports from the U.S., leading to a massive increase in fracking.
3) It would allow a rollback of consumer rights.
4) It would threaten workers' rights by giving foreign corporations greater rights than domestic ones, encouraging companies to move abroad.
The problem is, these are just the issues we sort of know about due to some leaks and what we have learned from past trade pacts. We don't know about them concretely because all of the negotiations and text have been secret.
News came out this week that Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida just saw some of the text and was shocked. "Having seen what I've seen, I would characterize this as a gross abrogation of American sovereignty," he said in an interview.
Our trade activists, including Stephanie, are speaking out for transparency and the right of Americans to have their say on the agreement.
"I am really passionate about this because it will affect every aspect of our lives," says Stephanie (pictured above at a NY fracking rally), who's been leading educational forums on the TPP around New York City.
"If nothing happens, if we don't make a big deal about this and make sure it changes, in 20 years we won't have the opportunity to make anything different happen. If the TPP goes through in what we understand is its current form, it will codify and deepen the kind of control that corporations have over our country right now."
Stephanie is especially worried about how the TPP's rules could allow foreign companies to challenge fracking bans in the U.S., an issue she's worked on for years.
"The TPP will cover about 40 percent of global trade, and it won't just affect the countries already involved," she says. "It's an open-ended agreement. Any nation can join even after it's signed. And if you think that 40 percent of global trade won't affect the other 60 percent, you're wrong."
Stephanie and I encourage you to get involved today to help prevent a trade pact that would harm communities and the environment.