For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Dan Byrnes (202) 813-0363 or

Marylanders Rally for Fair Trade, Urge Rep. Van Hollen to Stop Fast Track

ROCKVILLE, MD - Today, concerned citizens, environmentalists, and workers rallied in Courthouse Square Park to urge U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen to stand up for Marylanders and oppose legislation that would put secretive, flawed trade deals on the fast track.

Congress will soon consider a bill to fast track trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would undermine food safety standards, workers’ rights, environmental safeguards, and much more. Modeled after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the TPP has been written behind closed doors by negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim governments. The TPP goes beyond the typical trade issues of tariffs and quotas and includes dangerous provisions that put corporate interests above consumer safety, healthy communities, job security, and other everyday American values.
“Fast track is the wrong track,” said Thomas Ratliff, President of Teamsters Local Union 639. “Fast track will let Congress rubber stamp the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will lower wages, send jobs overseas, and undermine our food safety.”
Fast track would allow the executive branch to send already-signed trade agreements to Congress for limited debate, no amendments, and a straight up-or-down vote, thereby limiting the ability of Congress to ensure that trade agreements protect communities and the public. This would include the TPP and any other trade deals going forward.
“Communities across the country are taking action to rebuild their broken food systems from the ground up,” said Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Director of International Strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “The trade rules in TPP would threaten those achievements. We need to find ways to raise food, environment, and climate standards to their highest levels on terms that are fair to farmers and consumers. But to do that we need to say no to fast track, and yes to democracy and food sovereignty.”
Environmentalists are concerned that fast tracking the TPP would threaten environmental safeguards and encourage corporate attacks on clean air and water protections. Previous fast track bills have failed to address how trade deals should adequately protect the environment.
“Trade policy should include strong and binding environmental provisions that commit to reduce air and water pollution, protect endangered species, ban trade in illegally taken wildlife, and fight climate disruption. It must be legally binding with enforcement provisions, obligating countries and investors to uphold domestic environmental protections and safeguards,” said Stan Boyd, Executive Committee Member of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We call on Congressman Chris Van Hollen to vote against fast track, which rushes trade pacts through Congress without oversight and protections.”
The rally was hosted by the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Teamsters, Food and Water Watch, Communication Workers of America, AFSCME, and others.

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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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