Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D -- OR03) introduced legislation to expand the discretionary authority of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to penalize countries whose trade practices undercut U.S. interests by failing to enforce their own environmental laws. As with countries that allow their domestic companies to ignore human rights laws, the Blumenauer legislation is aimed at stopping U.S. trading partners from effectively subsidizing companies by allowing them to ignore environmental regulations.
"We must empower the U.S. Trade Representative to hold our trading partners accountable to their own environmental regulations," said Blumenauer. "Otherwise, their companies may gain an unfair advantage by undercutting American businesses that are acting responsibly. With our economy heavily dependent on trade, we must empower the USTR to protect jobs and businesses by ensuring that our trading partners play by a set of fair rules. I am proud to stand up for American jobs and for our planet by introducing this legislation."
Specifically, the Blumenauer legislation would provide USTR with discretionary authority under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to take action if it finds a persistent pattern of conduct that indicates a trading partner:
* Fails to effectively enforce its environmental laws;
* Waives its environmental laws or weakens the protections afforded by such laws;
* Fails to provide for judicial or administrative proceedings giving access to remedies for violations of its environmental laws; or
* Fails to provide appropriate and effective sanctions or remedies for violations of its environmental laws.