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President Donald Trump stands after signing the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on January 29, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Condemning NAFTA 2.0 as 'Giveaway to Fossil Fuel Industry,' Sanders Vows to Immediately Renegotiate Trump Deal If Elected

"We need a trade policy that works for the working class and improves the environment. And that's exactly what I will fight for as president."

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, signed into law Wednesday by President Donald Trump, as a massive "giveaway to the fossil fuel industry" and vowed to immediately renegotiate the trade deal if elected president in 2020.

"The deal doesn't even mention the words 'climate change.' Our trade agreements must stop outsourcing and address the climate crisis threatening our planet."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

"As the only leading presidential candidate to oppose Trump's NAFTA 2.0, I am pledging today that upon being sworn in as president, I will immediately begin renegotiating this disastrous deal to combat climate change, stop the outsourcing of American jobs, and end the destructive race to the bottom," Sanders said in a statement.

Sanders described the USMCA, which sailed through Congress earlier this month with overwhelming bipartisan support, as an "absolute disaster" for the environment as "climate change threatens our planet." The trade agreement does not once mention the phrase "climate change," the Vermont senator pointed out.

"This deal does nothing to prevent fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron from dumping their waste and pollution into Mexico and destroying the environment," Sanders said. "It preserves the disastrous investor-state dispute settlement system for oil and gas companies, allowing them to continue to put corporate profits ahead of our air, water, climate, and health."

"We need a trade policy that works for the working class and improves the environment," added Sanders. "And that's exactly what I will fight for as president."

Environmental groups echoed Sanders' warning that the USMCA could have devastating consequences for the planet at a time when scientists are urging bold and immediate action to confront the global climate crisis.

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of advocacy group Food & Water Action, said in a statement that the trade pact is "a freebee for industry and a death sentence for American consumers, our air and water, and our environment."

"This deal will not stop the hemorrhaging of American manufacturing jobs to Mexico and other low wage-paying countries," Hauter added. "Meanwhile, USMCA will increase dirty energy use and globalize new precedents of worse food safety protections that mean more life-threatening diseases in meat and poultry products lining the shelves of our grocery stores."

Ben Beachy, director of Sierra Club's Living Economy program, called the agreement "the latest instance of [Trump] selling out clean air and water, climate stability, and our health to corporate polluters."

"USMCA will increase dirty energy use and globalize new precedents of worse food safety protections that mean more life-threatening diseases in meat and poultry products lining the shelves of our grocery stores."
—Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Action

"The American people and all people across borders deserve a modern trade deal that supports climate action, good clean energy jobs, and enforceable protections for workers, communities, and the planet," Beachy said in a statement. "The Sierra Club looks forward to working with Congress and the next administration to craft a new model of trade that protects people, not polluters."

Trump signed the USMCA into law Wednesday afternoon during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. The Trump administration did not invite a single Democratic lawmaker to the event, allowing Trump to seize the spotlight—as critics of the bipartisan deal predicted he would.

"This is something we really put our heart into," Trump said. "It's probably the number one reason that I decided to lead this crazy life that I'm leading right now as opposed to that beautiful simple life of luxury that I left before this happened. But I love doing it."

"This is a cutting edge, state-of-the-art agreement that protects and defends the people of our country," Trump bragged.

While the USMCA garnered support from the AFL-CIO—the largest federation of labor unions in the U.S.—some unions voiced skepticism about the deal.

"USMCA will not bring back the hundreds of thousands of good U.S. manufacturing jobs that have already been shipped to Mexico," the United Auto Workers said in a statement. "Even under the rosiest of scenarios, it would only stem the tide. We need to invest in workers and fix our bad tax and labor laws to compete on a level field abroad and restore the good manufacturing jobs that built our middle class."

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