Archive for June 29th, 2011

Check out this two-minute film from Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch about the job-killing NAFTA-style Korea trade deal.


Or, if film isn’t your thing, read the script below. It is replete with links to images and underlying documents. And, if this makes you mad, do something about it. Click here to go to our action page.


It is heartbreaking, but true: After campaigning against more job-killing NAFTA-style trade agreement, President Obama has adopted Bush’s Korea trade deal.

It is opposed by labor, consumer, environmental and family farm organizations. The Chamber of Commerce and multinational corporations love it.

NAFTA with Korea is projected to cost 159,000 more American jobs and increase our trade deficit. Losers under this deal: the jobs of the future; solar and wind energy; mass transit equipment and more.

NAFTA with Korea is celebrated by the Wall Street firms who wrecked our economy. No doubt, it limits financial regulation.

NAFTA with Korea is opposed by many in Korea because of its financial deregulation and because it would allow up to 65% Chinese parts to go into “Korean” exports to the US–killing Korean jobs.

The Korea deal has the outrageous NAFTA-style provisions that empower multinational corporations to skirt our court systems and directly attack our state and federal laws before World Bank and UN tribunals to demand compensation from us taxpayers for any policies they say undermine their future expected profits. Under trade deals, this system has been used to attack toxics bans, forestry and mining laws, land use and zoning rules — even domestic court rulings.

NAFTA with Korea could also undermine our national security. The sanctions we have to keep the North Korea dictatorship from obtaining hard currency to build up its weapons systems would be undermined. A loophole in the deal would deliver billions to the North Korean regime. It allows goods assembled in South Korea but comprised of parts from the notorious Kaesong North Korea sweatshop zone to obtain special access to our market.

We can stop NAFTA with Korea by ensuring a majority in Congress vote against it. Opposition to more NAFTAs is one of the few issues that unite Americans across the political spectrum. You can make the difference visit www.citizen.org/korea to learn how you can take action to stop the Korea Trade Deal.

 Follow Lori Wallach on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PCGTW

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There are two main causes of air pollution—diesel engines and coal-fired power plants—both of which are prevalent in Texas.  And these neighborhood contaminants are having grave consequences, particularly on Hispanics in Texas and the rest of the country. 

Because of work or housing availability, Hispanics across the country tend to live near some of the most polluted areas of the country.  In both urban neighborhoods and rural areas, 65 percent of Hispanics live in areas where the air fails to meet federal standards.   According to the Clean Air Task Force, Hispanics take in approximately one-and-one-half times the levels diesel exhaust of the average American, resulting in anywhere between 2,000 to 5,000 premature deaths in the Hispanic community annually. Additionally, Hispanics are 3 times as likely as whites to die from asthma.

Coal-fired power plants are among the biggest polluters in the country and 15 percent of Hispanics live within 10 miles of one.  But it is not only poor air quality that threatens Hispanic neighborhoods.  A recent report released by the Sierra Club indicated that mercury—emitted from coal-fired power plants—is present in high levels in rivers and streams that Hispanics fish. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of eating contaminated fish because mercury poisoning contributes to babies being born with learning disabilities, developmental delays and cerebral palsy.

A 2007 University of Texas study revealed that children who lived within a 2 mile radius of the Ship Channel in Houston had a 56 percent higher chance of having leukemia than those living elsewhere, and this area of Houston has a large Hispanic population.

The impact on health translates into increased pressure on families juggling caring for a sick family member and their jobs, increased costs to the family from emergency room visits and medication for chronic conditions, all these things are a tremendous burden on families and workers.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets air quality standards by setting maximum levels of common air pollutants, which include ozone, particles, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and lead, which can be present in the air over a set period of time. They also measure for other contaminants that the EPA calls toxic, such as mercury.  States then enforce these standards by issuing permits and

Currently in Texas, when a polluter applies for an air quality permit, the state environmental agency (the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality – TCEQ) looks only at projected air emission levels from that specific plant.  There is no requirement that they look at the cumulative impacts on air quality and efforts to address cumulative impacts failed to pass in the Texas legislature this past session.  This leaves communities dealing with the cumulative impacts of air pollution from several different sources with little recourse, because without one specific polluter, individual families can’t take legal action against companies.

From coast to coast, Hispanics are banding together in a growing environmental justice movement insisting that not only should the earth be protected but also people should be treated equally around environmental issues.  Industry threatens that increasing regulation to protect citizens will cost jobs, but jobs are a poor exchange for the loss of a loved one.  One way to address the current inequities is to VOTE YOUR INTERESTS.  Keeping local, state or federal candidates’ stances on environmental issues in mind when election time rolls around can impact air pollution in your community.

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