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Will Chevron case take down trade pact investor-state system?

After having lost on the merits in Ecuador and U.S. courts, Chevron has turned to an ad hoc "investor-state" tribunal of three private lawyers to help the company avoid paying to clean up horrific contamination in the Amazonian rainforest.

Chevron is trying to get this private tribunal to suspend enforcement of or alter an $18 billion judgment against Chevron rendered by a sovereign country's court system. The closed-door tribunal met in a rented room in Washington, DC Saturday and Sunday (February 11-12, 2012).

These unaccountable panels, from which no outside appeal is available, have issued perverse rulings in the past on behalf of corporate claimants. Recent U.S. trade agreements empower foreign corporations to use this system to skirt our domestic courts to directly use our government before these corporate tribunals to obtain payment of unlimited taxpayer funds when they claim domestic environmental, land use, health and other laws undermine their "expected future profits." Really! This is becoming one of the most controversial issues in the first "trade" deal the Obama administration is negotiating — a new Trans-Pacific Partnership.


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