Leaked Memo Reveals TTIP Would Export Fracked Gas Restriction-Free From U.S. to EU

 

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Tanker. Photo credit: FrackCheckWV
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Tanker. Photo credit: FrackCheckWV

Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch

This week, negotiators from the U.S. and the EU began their fifth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement, also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Because the negotiations are all happening behind closed doors, the public is left largely in the dark about the content of the discussions. So what, exactly, do we know?

Officially, not much. But this week, an EU negotiation position “on raw materials and energy” was leaked to The Huffington Post. The text is nothing short of a wish list of demands from Big Oil and Gas, which will lock in any of their investments in fossil fuels in general, and shale gas and fracking in particular.

Article C of the document provides that no restrictions should apply to the “exports of energy goods” between the transatlantic trade partners. Any request, for example, for an export license to ship natural gas from the U.S. to the EU would be approved “automatically,” no questions asked—even if this would lead to environmental damage from widespread use of fracking, increased gas prices for U.S. consumers, increased import dependency, and so on. It would lock in our mutual dependence on unsustainable fossil fuels at the expense of our climate. While it would lock in more business and better quarterly profits for Big Oil and Gas, it is hard to see how this serves the public interest.

The EU’s ideas for free trade in energy with the U.S. would also be a frontal assault on the possibility for governments to impose a “public service obligation,” requiring utility companies to deliver natural gas at certain prices to consumers, for example. Any such public service obligation should be “clearly defined and of limited duration” and also not be “more burdensome than necessary.” With such vague wording, lawyers will have a field day to attack any price regulation in the energy sector.

This leak shows that civil society groups on both sides of the Atlantic have been right all along to be suspicious about what is being negotiated behind closed doors. The expression “No news is good news” clearly does not apply to the transatlantic free trade deal. The more we learn about the ongoing negotiations, the less we like it.

Original article from Eco Watch available here

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Ukip’s Rise Should Provoke Soul-Searching Among Our Political Class

So the Ukip mask of respectability, always very thin and ill-fitting, has slipped. After what’s now generally known as Nigel Farage’s “car-crash LBC interview” and a leader in the Sun saying that the party’s position is “racist”, the party has been forced to take out a full page advert in the Telegraph to counter Ukip’s perception as a bunch of xenophobes.

Just consider the “clarification” Nigel Farage offered, in careful consideration in the cold light of day on Saturday morning: “any normal and fair-minded person would have a perfect right to be concerned if a group of Romanian people suddenly moved in next door”. That is a statement that can only be described as bigoted, racist and disgusting. Those “Romanian people” might be doctors, or IT professionals or care workers, or Roma seeking a better life away from prejudice and as likely as any other people to be good neighbours, who’ll feed the cat or lend you a cup of sugar.

However, as the Telegraph points out, with probably up to 40% of votes in the European election already cast (by post), the immediate electoral impact may be limited. But it should be a powerful reason for every voter opposed to Ukip’s approach to immigration, Europe, charging for NHS services and many other issues to take ten minutes to get to the polling station on Thursday.

What Ukip’s rise should do is provoke seriously soul-searching among our political class about why it has been able to get so far with its dangerous, divisive and damaging rhetoric, and been almost unchallenged.

The three largest parties haven’t taken on Ukip, but all too often pandered to it, seeking to pull back Ukip voters by outdoing it in rhetoric and policy.

The Tories and Lib Dems have introduced the dreadful Immigration Bill, which seeks to turn landlords and NHS staff into immigration agents. And just this weekend, we saw Ed Miliband again grovelling in apology at the former Labour government’s immigration policies. Do we see similar words on its disastrous encouragement of financial sector excesses, of the fact that after 13 years of a Labour government inequality had actually increased? No.

This is not only morally wrong, but politically stupid. By pandering to Ukip’s stance on immigration and Europe, the three largest parties have helped to make its claims that immigration has “caused” low wages, has “caused” housing shortages, has “caused” crowded hospitals and schools seem plausible. Continue reading