Hi reddit, I'm Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. Yesterday, WikiLeaks posted a draft environment chapter of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that governments have negotiated in secret for nearly four years.

You can learn more about our work at http://sierraclub.org/trade. I'm here to take your questions, so AMA.

My Proof: https://twitter.com/sierraclub/status/423870502206468096

UPDATE: Thanks everyone for a great session! Will you help us fight TPP? We need you.

If you have a minute to stop fast track, please contact your member of Congress here: http://sc.org/StopTPPfastTrack

Comments: 142 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

vettel28 karma

I am a monthly supporter of Sierra Club and was wondering why you send out so much paper snail mail since it seems to be detrimental to the environment to kill so many trees?

Sierra_Club10 karma

First, vettel, thanks for your support! Monthly supporters like you are the lifeblood of the SC.

We are working to reduce the amount of fundraising we do through snail mail and to do more online, because it's more efficient and saves paper and trees. Thx for bringing it up.

You can also manage your account directly online to make sure that you don't get ANY solicitations by mail and contribute electronically all the time.

mudah18 karma

What are your top three biggest concerns with the TPP related to how it will impact the environment?

Sierra_Club33 karma

Thanks mudah

  1. It will expand natural gas exports and fracking
  2. It will allow corporations to attack climate and enviro policies in private trade tribunals.
  3. It will put more pressure on scarce natural resources.

jpmerz11 karma

So, what can we do?

Sierra_Club21 karma

Thanks jpmerz. Our favorite question!

Call your member of Congress, right now, and tell them not to fast-track the TPP. Fast track would remove the ability of Congress to ensure that TPP protects the environment, jobs and communities.

Sierra_Club11 karma

Take action to oppose fast track: http://sc.org/StopTPPfastTrack

RalphTheCrusher9 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. Fast Track has been introduced in Congress, and, if passed, would essentially bypass any meaningful Congressional input in trade agreements. What is the Sierra Club doing to stop Fast Track, H.R. 3830? What allies are you partnering with?

Sierra_Club10 karma

Thx RalphTheCrusher.

Here's what we're doing. Over the last year we've been organizing with our chapters all over the country to educate on the impacts of trade on the environment and jobs. As we've learned more about what the language in the agreement actually looks like (hard to get because this process is the opposite of transparent) we've been advocating strongly with the Obama Administration and with other NGO's in TPP countries. Since the enviro chapter was leaked, we've stepped up our engagement and have helped to expose the numerous weaknesses in the agreement. Since Fast Track legislation was introduced, we've been going to members of Congress one by one to encourage them to oppose. We're working with many allies in the labor movement, including the Teamsters, Communication Workers, machinists, Carpenters, AFL CIO and many others. Enviro allies include Friends of the Earth, WWF, and NRDC, as well as great consumer groups like Public Citizen.

consumeradvocacy8 karma

As I'm sure you're aware, Canada is playing a huge role in the climate change crisis and the proliferation of dirty fossil fuel energy sources. I am a Canadian member of the Sierra Club, but the action seems limited on this side of the border. Does the Sierra Club have any plans to increase their presence in Canada? Particularly with regards to Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, and the tar sands in general.

Sierra_Club13 karma

Hi consumeradvocacy. Thanks for your support! Yes, the Sierra Club has plans to increase our presence in Canada, and also to partner with our much larger operations here in the US. One thing we'll be doing over the next year is fighting other proposed tar sands development projects - rail terminals, other pipelines, financing, etc.

consumeradvocacy1 karma

Great to hear! I'll be looking to get more involved over the coming year.

Sierra_Club1 karma

Great - thanks!

equus0078 karma

Is it really that dangerous? From what I gathered it is at least a little better than the zero enforcement we had internationally before.

Agreeably not what we wanted or needed but how is it worse than what we already had?

Sierra_Club14 karma

Hi everyone. Thanks for joining. Yes, the TPP is really that dangerous. We should be moving forward and strengthening protection for the environment (and jobs, and human rights, etc) through our trade negotiations, not weakening them. And we expect the Obama Administration to do much, much better.

SaveTheOil7 karma

Hey bro do you like yerba mate tea? It is my favorite ;)

Sierra_Club9 karma

Is that a serious question? Or do you have a camera in my office? Do you work for NSA?

I have a bottle of Guayaki sitting on my desk!

Sierra_Club7 karma

Thanks everyone for a great session!

Will you help us fight TPP? We need you.

If you have a minute to stop fast track, please contact your member of Congress here: http://sc.org/StopTPPfastTrack

gogodef7 karma

We lost on NAFTA - how is it possible to organize to beat this?

Sierra_Club13 karma

Great question gogodef. Here's what I'd say. First, we have the evidence from NAFTA and the effect has been terrible on the environment (and jobs). Communities all across the nation and all across TPP countries to make sure we don't have another NAFTA. We have allies in Congress - and we're determined to win this time around.

Will you join us?

mudah6 karma

In your press release yesterday you said:

"If the environment chapter is finalized as written in this leaked document, President Obama’s environmental trade record would be worse than George W. Bush’s."

That's a pretty bold statement, do you think Obama is risking becoming worse than W. on environmental issues?

Sierra_Club7 karma

No, we do not think that. But the current draft of this trade agreement is pretty bad and our statements - and those of other NGO's - are fully justified. If the agreement is passed as is, it would undermine much of what the President has done on other environmental issues.

glowsaspeopleglow5 karma

I realize the draft concerning the trade deal was only posted yesterday, but has there been more coverage on the partnership in media? What have you done to make it more widely known? (This AMA is a good start)

Sierra_Club9 karma

Glad you like the AMA, glowsaspeopleglow. It's sad that it has taken a leaked text to make this issue a front page story. Here's the link to the NYT story: http://sc.org/1eDmdJA, and there have been many many more over the last 24 hours.

For our part, we're doing everything we can to get this out there as widely as possible. Here's my letter to the NYT: http://sc.org/17yfulF

Aganhim4 karma

What is the best thing the average citizen can do to stop this kind of thing?

Sierra_Club5 karma

love that question, aganhim.

Bring the TPP up at the dinner table, on the bus, online, at your favorite dive bar, tell your friends and neighbors, etc. We need to spread the word and tell your member of Congress not to fast-track the TPP.

And when we win this fight, stay engaged. Get involved locally. Join the Sierra Club! and get involved in your community as a volunteer.

But until we win, here's how to get involved on TPP: Take action to oppose fast track: http://sc.org/StopTPPfastTrack

popadoo3 karma

Can you provide a link to the TPP environment chapter?

Sierra_Club10 karma

Here you go popadoo:

link to wikileaks enviro chapter: https://wikileaks.org/tpp-enviro/

CookingWithNoah3 karma

Hi Michael and thanks so much for doing this! I'm just curious what inspired you to pursue a life protecting the wild life on this planet, what inspires you and gives you hope in times like these?

Sierra_Club9 karma

my pleasure, CookingWithNoah.

I grew up on the Jersey Shore, and you'd be surprised how many enviros come from the great state of NJ. It's probably because there are so many beautiful areas in the state, like the town where I grew up, in such close proximity to places that are severely polluted.

But I'm inspired to do this work because I think environmental issues can bring everyone together - conservatives, libertarians, progressives. We all, or almost all of us, care about clean air, clean water, parks, and a stable climate. Trade is a great example of that - and this is why this TPP fight is so important. We should be able to protect jobs, strengthen trade and our economy and protect our rights and the planet at the same time. These values need not compete with each other.

I also am inspired to be a treehugger because the solutions that we're promoting, like clean energy, won't just clean up our air and water and stabilize our climate but they'll create more jobs than can be found in oil, coal and gas and help families and communities to be energy self-sufficient.

citizenstrade3 karma

Is it true that even if the environment chapter of the TPP was strong -- the other chapters of the agreement (investment, procurement, technical barriers to trade, etc.) would still be an environmental disaster?

Sierra_Club5 karma

You are exactly right, citizenstrade! The investment chapter would allow corporations to sue our and other governments over environmental policies. The TPP would expand natural gas exports and thus fracking across the US and overall it would weaken and remove the ability of our govt to put in place policies to combat climate change and replace dirty fuels with clean energy.

mudah3 karma

What do you perceive to be President Obama's reasoning to support the TPP and fast tracking it?

Sierra_Club8 karma

Great question mudah. I'd say that for thirty years or more there has been an orthodoxy in the US and in most other countries that trade trumps all - that trade is good for the economy, plain and simple, and that all other concerns - climate, jobs, communities, human rights, forests, fisheries, wildlife and the quality of our own lives - is secondary. This is what we see D's and R's often supporting agreements that go against their own constituents interests, time and time again.

But that support is eroding, fast. As it becomes more clear the impact that these trade agreements are having on people and planet, more and more people and institutions are saying there must be a better way, and that we should be able to have trade and a modern economy without destroying the things we care about.

m0j0j0_j02 karma

What is the best way to fight this? What should we continue to look out for? Is there anything worse that we should also worry about?

Sierra_Club5 karma

thx m0j0j0_j0

here's a toolkit for activists: http://sierraclub.org/trade/toolkit/default.aspx

PirateNixon2 karma

If you could only change one clause of this section of the TPP, what would it be?

Sierra_Club9 karma

Great question PirateNixon. If we were to change one clause, it would be to make the environment chapter enforceable. Seems simple, doesn't it? But it's pretty profound. Right now, the worst that can happen if country violates a rule or provision in the enviro chapter, the worst that can happen is that that country is hit with an... action plan! Not the most severe consequence, don't you think?

orchardsky2 karma

Why did we only find out about this bad environmental chapter of the TPP through wikileaks? Why isn't the process for drafting trade agreements more open and transparent? And what can we do to make it more transparent?

Sierra_Club4 karma

thanks orchardsky. We're asking ourselves the same question. The TPP has been negotiated in near complete secrecy. Why isn't it more transparent? Because it's a dog of a trade agreement - not to offend dogs. If people knew what was in this trade agreement, they would organize against it and fight to have it defeated. That's what is beginning to happen now.

To make it more transparent, we need to 1) demand the US release the full text and 2) not allow Congress to fast track the TPP.

auritus1 karma

Thanks for your work to protect the environment. Just wanted to say that I love my Sierra Club Engagement Calendar. It's the perfect layout and size calendar to have in my bag!

Sierra_Club2 karma

glad you like it auritus!

uebelhorj1 karma

What role do you see for Congress on this issue? Has Sierra Club been working with our members of Congress to advocate against fast-track status for the TPP?

Sierra_Club1 karma

thx uebelhorj. see my reply to RalphtheCrusher

frankc21 karma

What interests are pushing Fast Track? TPP? As messed up as Congress is, it's hard to believe any of them would cede control on these issues. At my cynical worst, it removes their leverage against others in Congress.

Sierra_Club4 karma

Corporate interests, frankc2. Sounds cynical and trite but it's true. While the public has been left out of the TPP more than 600 business executives are actively shaping it's contents. Halliburton, Chevron, GE are official advisors to USTR.

Many, many corporations stand to benefit from a weak agreement and they're pushing TPP, hard.

danbbyrnes1 karma

Would fast track also cover the trade pact that the U.S. is negotiating with the European Union? How is that trade deal shaping up in comparison to the TPP?

Sierra_Club3 karma

thanks danbbyrnes. Love your work!

Yes, fast track would also cover the agreement with the EU and, unfortunately, the agreement with the EU is shaping up to be another potentially dangerous agreement. Like TPP it would allow corporations to sue our government. The EU is proposing a new chapter that would increase exports of coal, oil and gas and so far lacks transparency, just like the TPP negotiations.