Bad Trade Damages Environment, Threatens Communities

United Steelworkers (USW) Legislative Director Holly Hart and Assistant Legislative Director Roxanne Brown this week appeared on The Leslie Marshall Show to discuss the threat bad trade poses to both the environment and American jobs.

Preserving the environment and saving American manufacturing jobs go hand in hand, Hart said, because both require international players follow the rules, respecting international trade agreements and honoring their commitments to operate more cleanly.

Dumped and subsidized Chinese steel, for example, hurts both the environment and the global economy, because China does not adhere to the same production standards as the U.S. 

“You have to think about the fact that those [Chinese] imports carry with them a huge cost in the amount of carbon that was emitted to produce them,” Hart said. “Then you have to look at the cost in carbon that was emitted on its way here, not just in manufacturing but also in shipping.”

Yet because the Chinese are not concerned with global overcapacity and continue to illegally subsidize their exports, Chinse steel is often cheaper, which means, “our production is the one shutting down.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the massive, 12-nation trade deal currently under congressional review, is also dangerous. Not only would it make it easier to offshore production, decimating America’s manufacturing sector, but it would also allow multinational companies to challenge national environmental regulations if those policies make them less profitable.

 “We’re in a very strange time right now when it comes to our climate,” said Brown, “and our policies really do need to work to help mitigate the effects of climate change—and not just our climate policies, but our trade policies should focus on that too.”

Yet without strong, enforceable language in the TPP, there remains no guarantee other countries will do the right thing, leaving them free to continue polluting the environment and undercutting domestic industries, Hart said.

The solution to both problems, Hart said, is working people standing together to demand fair trade and workable environmental solutions.

 “People are recognizing more and more that we’re all in this together,” said Hart. “When a local factory goes down, the local tax base diminishes, public services decline, teachers lose their jobs, it ripples throughout the entire community.” 

Click the audio link below to hear the conversation.


Background Materials:

Trade and Climate Change

Burn the TPP

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