Thursday, January 7, 2016

Would PolyMet support the international Sustainable Development Goals?

Have you seen the reports that TransCanada is using NAFTA to sue the U.S. for $15 billion because the XL pipeline wasn't approved? If the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and/or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are approved we can expect more of that kind of thing. The decisions won't necessarily be made in United States courts, nor will they have to respect environmental or labor laws that get in the way of trade and profits. That's ass backwards! The economy represents intermediate phases between natural capital and human well-being (page #42), yet we have corporations that are legally obligated to maximize profits and global corporations doing their best to undermine sovereign governments so profits can be increased based on "growth."

Northern Minnesota, St. Louis River
Northern Minnesota, St. Louis River
Photo by J. Harrington

You may wonder what this has to do with Minnesota. Foreign entities are major investors in pipelines traversing Minnesota. Expansion projects are now subject to the preparation of a state Environmental Impact Statement, a decision reached by Minnesota courts. Corporations with significant ownership control by foreign investors are mining Minnesota for taconite and planning to mine for copper. The Minnesota pipeline projects may become plaintiffs similar to KXL's owners if Minnesota determines that the environmental risks are unacceptable. If the state is dragged into a trade arbitration settlement it could cost Minnesotans big bucks. My Minnesota has raised similar concerns about the outcome of the PolyMet NorthMet project. Our Iron Range is suffering in part due to a slowing of economic growth in China and reduced demand for steel. A growing global economy controlled more by international corporations than by national and state governments isn't what we need. No trade deals are better than bad trade deals, whether they're supposed to be good for agriculture, mining or forestry, they need to be good first of all for Minnesota. I still sort of like the idea that we all do better when we all do better, not just when it benefits the 1% who then let it trickle down to the rest of us. Maybe we need evaluations of international trade agreements to see how well they help attain the world's new Sustainable Development Goals, as a way to see if they help level of further tilt the playing field for world development. It's past time to think about the legacy we're leaving to future generations.

Part of a Legacy

By Frank Steele 

I take pillows outdoors to sun them   
as my mother did.  “Keeps bedding fresh,”   
she said.  It was April then, too—   
buttercups fluffing their frail sails,   
one striped bee humming grudges, a crinkle   
of jonquils.  Weeds reclaimed bare ground.   
All of these leaked somehow   
into the pillows, looking odd where they   
simmered all day, the size of hams, out of place   
on grass.  And at night I could feel   
some part of my mother still with me   
in the warmth of my face as I dreamed   
baseball and honeysuckle, sleeping   
on sunlight.

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