Global Exchange: CAFTA and the Environment

U.S.-based Harken Energy Company wanted to exploit oil off the coast of Costa Rica, a country known for its long history of democracy as well as its pristine natural parks and natural resources. But the Costa Rican government denied the permit because the oil exploration would negatively impact Costa Rica’s environment. Harken attempted to sue the government for $57 billion – more than the country’s entire GDP. The case was eventually settled in local courts. But if CAFTA is approved, Harken would have the right to sue the Costa Rican government for expropriation. Then the Costa Rican people would be left with two options: let Harken drill for oil, or pay them potential lost future profits.

By Global Exchange

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For decades, governments have worked together through the United Nations to develop agreements to protect the natural resources of our shared planet. Unfortunately, so-called “free trade agreements” threaten to erode many of the advances in global environmental protection, endangering our planet and the natural resources necessary to support life. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was written to prioritize rights for corporations over protections for our shared environment.

But rather than being repealed, corporate interests are negotiating the expansion of these corporate rights. The U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), soon to go before Congress, and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), currently in negotiations, are modeled on NAFTA.

These new agreements threaten global biodiversity, would accelerate the spread of genetically engineered (GE) crops, increase natural resource exploitation, further degrade some of the most critical environmental regions on the planet, and erode the public’s ability to protect our planet for future generations.