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Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin

#TruthInTrade Day 5: NAFTA – Exposing Our Communities to Toxic Chemicals

Mar 21, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) today continued his #TruthInTrade campaign to highlight the unintended consequences of free trade agreements. Trade deals negotiated behind closed doors, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have allowed international firms to overturn domestic environmental regulations and other laws that protect public health and safety. More information about #TruthinTrade is available here.

In 1997, the Canadian Parliament placed public safety ahead of a company’s desire to sell its products in Canada by banning the import and interprovincial transport of the toxic gasoline additive MMT.  Ethyl, the American multinational company that put the lead in leaded gasoline, claimed the Canadian import ban on MMT violated various provisions of NAFTA and sued Canada for $251 million. Canada eventually settled the case and reversed the ban on MMT. 

“It’s wrong and inexcusable to let a free trade agreement override laws designed to protect citizens from harmful chemicals,” Representative Pocan. “This suit demonstrates the serious danger that trade agreements could pose to our health and safety. If NAFTA did not exist, MMT would still be banned in Canada. Fast-tracking trade agreements through Congress prevent the thorough oversight needed to protect every American.”