New Report Reveals Environmental Costs of North American Free Trade Agreement

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Dan Byrnes

(202) 495-3039

daniel.byrnes@sierraclub.org

New Report Reveals Environmental Costs of North American Free Trade Agreement

Environmental Damages Underscore Risks of Unfair Trade

WASHINGTON - A massive free trade deal went into effect 20 years ago and has had very harmful effects on communities and the environment in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, according to a report released today.

January 1, 1994 marked the first day of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and nearly 20 years later, communities are still suffering from its consequences.

Among other conclusions, this report finds that NAFTA:

  • Facilitated the expansion of large-scale, export-oriented farming that relies heavily on fossil fuels, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms;
  • Encouraged a boom in environmentally destructive mining activities in Mexico;
  • Undermined Canada’s ability to regulate its tar sands industry and locked the country into shipping large quantities of fossil fuels to the United States;
  • Catalyzed economic growth in North American industries and manufacturing sectors while simultaneously failing to safeguard against the increase in air and water pollution associated with this growth; and
  • Weakened domestic environmental safeguards by providing corporations with new legal avenues to challenge environmental policymaking.

“These are not unfortunate side-effects, but rather the inevitable results of a model of trade that favors corporate profits over the interests of communities and the environment,” said the report, written by the Sierra Club, Sierra Club Canada, the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC), the Institute for Policy Studies, and the Council of Canadians. “It is time to recognize that the NAFTA model of trade is failing communities across the North American region and harming our shared environment.”

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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