Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Action Alert: Get investor rights clauses out of US trade pacts

We urge you to ask President Obama to stand by his campaign pledge to remove investor rights clauses from U.S. trade pacts--negotiations for a new one, the Transpacific Partnership, will get underway in San Francisco later this month. Please visit Public Citizen's site for background and to sign on to the call.

In 2008, the government of El Salvador lawfully denied mining permits to Pacific Rim Mining Company for a massive gold mine in a rural watershed area 40 miles south of San Salvador. To process the expected haul of gold and silver, mining operations would have used an estimated 22 million liters of water and 950 tons of cyanide, and the threat to water resources, agriculture and health spurred resistance to the plan across the nation. Even Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes has said, "It's very simple: my government will not authorize any extractive mining project."

But now Pacific Rim has gone to the World Bank, and in a closed-door hearing that started last week, the corporation will claim some $77 million in damages against El Salvador based on the controversial CAFTA investor rights rules. Under these rules, a private company can sue governments based on loss of future expected profits. It's the first time the investor rights clause has been used in an environmental protection case, but it won't be the last as multinational extractive industries go after a growing movement in the Global South for environmental justice, sustainability and rights of nature.

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