Posted by: shannynmoore | November 9, 2013

NAFTA gives corporations power to challenge nations

Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News

November 9, 2013

I hear a lot of crazy theories. Some emails and calls to my radio show are worrisome, some are laughable. This week I heard from a man who thought Tampons were covered by Obamacare because of their ability hypnotize women into supporting Democrats. Really. Every theory from One World Order to the Bilderberg Group, FEMA camps and HAARP seems to make its way to my in-box.

During the Clinton years, it was the “murder” of Vince Foster. I thought the blue dress incident was a pathetic witch hunt. I know, I know, it “wasn’t about sex — he lied!” (Whatever. People lie all the time about sex, either to get it or about it. It’s human nature.) What Clinton should have been roasted for he didn’t do alone: NAFTA, GATT and the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which crippled the media that might have reported on the realities of policy.

NAFTA conspiracy nuts should be having a field day right now. The “New World Order” is not a single world government, it’s the ability of corporations to bulldoze national laws that get in the way of profits.

For the record, I’m not typing this from a cabin deep in the woods on some no-name creek. (I kind of wish I were, but anyway.) No, instead I’ve been sucked down a rabbit hole due to the brilliant reporting of Cole Stangler, who writes for the labor publication In These Times.

In September, an energy company based in Delaware filed a $250 million suit against the Canadian government. Why? Because the company, Lone Pine, wants to frack in Quebec’s St. Lawrence River but can’t because the Canadian government has banned fracking in that area — specifically the bed of the river.

As someone who wants to see certain precious areas of Alaska protected from rape, pillage and plunder development, this story is blood chilling. What kind of assaults will Alaskans face when it comes to saving our salmon?

Oh, I’m sure you think I’m ringing the panic bell. Canadian courts just have to throw it out of court, right? I mean, seriously, they have a law and some whiney company is suing them over it. Why do they even need to hear it?

That’s the hitch. Thanks, NAFTA. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the American-based corporation can sue, in international court, the clearly no-longer-sovereign Canada. These tribunal courts are not public. What could go wrong? Under “free trade,” corporations trump countries. I guess that’s why companies now have their own flags.

Tin foil hat jokes aside, this is happening.

Lone Pine has filed for bankruptcy in Canada and the U.S. The company claims that because it can’t frack a river, its finances are shaky. That might make those folks who live on the St. Lawrence River wonder if Lone Pine could cover damages that might occur if it wins its “By God and By NAFTA” lawsuit.

This isn’t the first time this issue has come up under trade agreements. Under CAFTA, mining company Pac Rim filed against El Salvador for refusing to issue gold mining permits to the company. El Salvador says it’s running out of clean water for its citizens and mining doesn’t help that. Pac Rim says it wants $315 million. The country and the company are in arbitration.

The Obama Administration is working now on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. (Count on that one to affect Alaska.) Also being written is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which includes the European Union. The agreements haven’t been made public, but Sens. Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch want to “fast-track” them.

The idea of a corporation being able to challenge, in a secret court, a country’s efforts to protect its natural resources has me paying way closer attention than I once did to NAFTA.

We no longer govern ourselves according to our own values. Instead we live in a vast, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichsmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, yen and yuan.

We answer to IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the sovereigns of the world today.


  1. shannon.. thank you for all your info confirming all our fears of NAFTA and today
    TransPAc partnership..your info on the Delaware Lone Pine suing Canadian Gov. for fracking rights Saint Lawrence is a story that all of Canada should wake up to, as its been going on for long time (thanks clinton and gang) along with CAFTA and now Trans Pac Partnership, Steven Harper (Canada PM) is already in countries around the world setting up business for all over Canada and wait till these countries walk into these cities in Canada and the folks hear they Will be setting up business and if you do not like what they will be doing in your city or town.. too bad …
    and in Canada Fracking will be the big event for this 21st century.. good luck as water and chemicals will be your fight to survive.. El Salvador running out of clean water is enough to know that under CAFTA, Pac Rim is now suing this country. I live in BC Canada and this TPP will be yet another horror for folks in this province
    and Christy Clark the (now) frack queen and pipe line gueen leader of beautiful BC. saying that all the jobs that is needed is Not thinking about the Water and pollution due to chemical
    waste that Will seep into ground and make drinking water horrific, not to mention health risks..

    We know our lives will never be the same once the Show begins here in canada.. thanks to TPP and the $$$ hungry leaders that run our countries.. good luck all.

    And Shannon you are right about Alaska and the salmon fishing and environment is so pristeen.. BC your neighbor, is in the same boat.

    Loved seeing you on UP with Steve MSNBC
    last weekend..
    hope you get on the show more.

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