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Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch;
A Special Report By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch and Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. A review of U.S. government "system" audits of five nations (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Australia and Canada) reveals that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) deemed "equivalent" systems with sanitary measures that differ from FSIS policy, and in some cases, violate the express language of U.S. laws and regulations. Because FSIS has refused to respond to Public Citizen Freedom of Information Act requests for correspondence and other documentation regarding these equivalency decisions, it is impossible to determine what is the current status of these issues and whether they have been resolved by regulators. - The U.S. law requiring meat to be inspected by independent government officials was violated by Brazil and Mexico and they retained their eligibility to export to the United States. - The USDA's zero tolerance policy for contamination by feces was repeatedly violated by Australia, Canada and Mexico. - U.S. regulations requiring monthly supervisory reviews of plants eligible to export be conducted on behalf of USDA by foreign government officials were violated by Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Mexico, several of whom are seeking to avoid this core requirement of U.S. regulation. Monthly reviews are vitally important to remind the meat industry that the meat inspector who works the line in the plant is backed by the weight of the government and to double-check the work of meat inspectors on a regular basis. - Even though U.S. regulations requiring that a government official -- not a company employee -- sample meat for salmonella microbial contamination, the USDA approved company employees performing this task as part of an equivalency determination with Brazil and Canada. - Even though U.S. regulations require certain microbial testing to be performed at government labs, the U.S. approved testing by private labs as part of the equivalency determination with Brazil, Canada and Mexico. - Unapproved and/or improper testing procedures and sanitation violations have been re-identified by FSIS year after year for Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico, but the countries have retained their eligibility to export to the United States. - After its regulatory systems was designated "equivalent," Mexico began using alternative procedures for salmonella and E. coli that had never been evaluated by FSIS, yet the country retained its eligibility to import to the United States. - Australia and Canada were allowed to export to the United States while using their own methods and procedures for such matters as E. coli testing, postmortem inspection, monthly supervisory reviews and pre-shipment reviews while awaiting an equivalency determination from FSIS. - FSIS auditors and Canadian food safety officials continue to disagree about whether particular measures have already been found "equivalent" by FSIS, yet Canadian imports remained uninterrupted. - The regulatory systems of Brazil and Mexico have been rated equivalent even though the countries plead insufficient personnel and monetary resources to explain their inability to carry out all required functions.
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch;
In November of 1993, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released NAFTA We Need It, a collection of anecdotes from more than 250 companies describing how they would create U.S. jobs and face improved business prospects if Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
As NAM President Jerry Jasinowski proclaimed in the report's forward: "U.S. companies are publicly sharing information on their market prospects in Mexico -- information normally considered 'company proprietary' and jealously guarded from the competition...They are doing so to convince Congress to approve the pact. These anecdotes...clearly illustrate how important the Mexican and other foreign markets are to U.S. companies and U.S. jobs."(1)
Three years after NAFTA went into effect, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch examined the specific promises contained in the NAM's report and other pro-NAFTA business and government reports and congressional testimony to determine whether NAFTA has actually created the U.S. jobs that its proponents promised. By tracking the performance outcomes of specific job creation and export expansion promises of businesses and industry organizations, this report documents a broad sample of NAFTAs real life results.
As leading promoters of NAFTA, the firms surveyed for this report were the most likely to embody the promised benefits of NAFTA. This report reveals how the real life experiences of these pro-NAFTA companies three years into NAFTA now embody a very different story -- one which shows that NAFTA is not working. New U.S. jobs are not being created by NAFTA and NAFTA is causing major U.S. job loss.
Despite NAFTA's three year record, many of NAFTA's original industry and political boosters are now urging an immediate expansion of NAFTA to additional countries in the Americas. Any prudent consideration of NAFTA's future must be based on the real life evidence of NAFTA's actual performance.
With this study, Public Citizen demands: "Show Us the New NAFTA Jobs!" Recently, NAFTA's proponents have made weak attempts to use new statistical models to demonstrate NAFTA job creation. However, repeated inquiries to the Department of Commerce and our own studies have failed to uncover more than a few hundred actual new jobs attributable to NAFTA. These jobs stand in stark contrast to the NAFTA job loss reported by the NAFTA TAA program, which itself is a fraction of the actual NAFTA job loss. This study attempts to get past the phantom jobs NAFTA's defenders claim (using their economic models) and to look for the specific jobs created by NAFTA.
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch;
A joint report by Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and Public Citizen celebrate the promise of increased interaction and cross-border cooperation among different nationalities on pressing global concerns. This is why we are concerned about the current model of corporate globalization being fostered by "free trade" agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Negotiated behind closed doors by unelected and largely unaccountable bureaucrats who represent mainly business interests, these trade agreements invariably fail to promote equitable regional integration and cooperation. Instead, this model of corporate globalization explicitly benefits large multinational corporations at the expense of workers, farmers, immigrants, women, people of color, the environment and democratic governance. As the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. population, Latinos are and will continue to be among the groups most affected by this model of corporate globalization. Whether newcomers from El Salvador or fifth-generation Mexican-Americans, U.S. Latinos are seeing adverse effects on their job security, health and environment. Many are immigrants who left their homelands due to the economic and social devastation caused by the current globalization model. In both the United States and in their countries of origin, Latinos have seen their environment and their livelihoods harmed by the status quo globalization package of free trade, investment and finance liberalization, new protections for foreign investors and intellectual property, and new powers that enable multinational corporations to attack state, local and federal public interest laws. In this report, we examine the impact of NAFTA on Latino communities throughout the United States. Implemented in 1994, NAFTA is the most fully realized version of the corporate globalization model. It is currently being used as the blueprint for other trade and investment agreements that the Bush Administration is pushing in the hemisphere, such as the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and an array of bilateral free trade agreements with the Andean countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) and Panama. Although we support trade, we feel that NAFTA is not the model to follow and should not be copied in these agreements.
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch;
Report documents that Mexico's truck safety regulations are virtually non-existent, that Mexican trucks have far more safety deficiencies than U.S. trucks, that a disproportionate number of Mexican trucks crossing the border have been taken out of service for serious safety violations, and that the U.S. lacks enough inspectors to check incoming trucks. Further, Texas border communities within the commercial border zone in which Mexican trucks are permitted have seen a dramatic increase in highway fatalities and serious injuries from crashes involving trucks with Mexican registrations, the report found.
Earth Policy Institute;
Now that the year's grain harvest is safely in the bin, it is time to take stock and look ahead. This year's harvest of 1,967 million tons is falling short of the estimated consumption of 2,040 million tons by some 73 million tons. This shortfall of nearly 4 percent is one of the largest on record.
Even more sobering, in six of the last seven years world grain production has fallen short of use. As a result, world carryover stocks of grain have been drawn down to 57 days of consumption, the lowest level in 34 years. The last time they were this low wheat and rice prices doubled.
The growth in world grain consumption during the six years since 2000 averaged roughly 31 million tons per year. Of this growth, close to 24 million tons were consumed as food or feed. The annual growth in grain used to produce fuel ethanol for cars in the United States alone averaged nearly 7 million tons per year, climbing from 2 million tons in 2001 to 14 million tons in 2006.
Now the amount of grain used to produce fuel is exploding. Investment in crop-based fuel production, once dependent on government subsidies, is now driven by the price of oil. With the current price of ethanol double its cost of production, the conversion of agricultural commodities into fuel for cars has become hugely profitable. In the United States, this means that investment in fuel ethanol distilleries is controlled by the market, not by government.
Earth Policy Institute;
Plan B is shaped by what is needed to save civilization, not by what may currently be considered politically feasible. Plan B does not fit within a particular discipline, sector, or set of assumptions.
Implementing Plan B means undertaking several actions simultaneously, including eradicating poverty, stabilizing population, and restoring the earth's natural systems. It also involves cutting carbon dioxide emissions 80 percent by 2020, largely through a mobilization to raise energy efficiency and harness renewable sources of energy.
Not only is the scale of this save-our-civilization plan ambitious, so is the speed with which it must be implemented. We must move at wartime speed, restructuring the world energy economy at a pace reminiscent of the restructuring of the U.S. industrial economy in 1942 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The shift from producing cars to planes, tanks, and guns was accomplished within a matter of months. One of the keys to this extraordinarily rapid restructuring was a ban on the sale of cars, a ban that lasted nearly three years.
We face an extraordinary challenge, but there is much to be upbeat about. All the problems we face can be dealt with using existing technologies. And almost everything we need to do to move the world economy back onto an environmentally sustainable path has already been done in one or more countries.
Center for Economic and Policy Research;
European employees work fewer hours per year -- and use less energy per person -- than their American counterparts. This report compares the European and U.S. models of labor productivity and energy consumption. It finds that if all countries worked as many hours per week as U.S. workers do, the world would consume 15 to 30 percent more energy by 2050 than it would by following Europe's model.
Earth Policy Institute;
In a report compiled in early 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy listed 151 coal-fired power plants in the planning stages and talked about a resurgence in coal-fired electricity. But during 2007, 59 proposed U.S. coal-fired power plants were either refused licenses by state governments or quietly abandoned. In addition to the 59 plants that were dropped, close to 50 more coal plants are being contested in the courts, and the remaining plants will likely be challenged as they reach the permitting stage.
California cities have the least affordable housing and the most congested traffic in the nation. California's housing crisis results directly from several little-known state institutions, including local agency formation commissions (LAFCos), which regulate annexations and the formation of new cities and service districts; the California Environmental Quality Act, which imposes high costs on new developments; and a 1971 state planning law that effectively entitles any resident in the state to a say in how property owners in the state use their land. Cities such as San Jose have manipulated these institutions and laws with the goal of maximizing their tax revenues.
Meanwhile, California's transportation planning has allowed transit agencies, such as San Jose's Valley Transportation Authority and Los Angeles' Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to hijack tax revenues that were originally dedicated to highways so they can build rail empires that will do little or nothing to relieve congestion. New highway construction in the 1990s cut San Jose congestion in half, but congestion is again worsening as funds once spent on highways are now diverted to expensive and little-used rail transit projects.
California should change its planning laws to forbid cities and counties from conspiring to drive up housing prices in order to maximize tax revenues. California and its urban areas should also fund transportation out of user fees instead of taxes, thus making transportation more responsive to the needs of users instead of politically powerful special interest groups. Other states should avoid passing laws that create similar conditions. These recommendations and eight others in this report will greatly improve the livability of San Jose and other California urban areas.
Political Economy Research Institute;
The Toxic 100 index identifies the top U.S. air polluters among the world's largest corporations. The index relies on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Risk Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) project. The starting point for the RSEI is the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which reports on releases of toxic chemicals at facilities across the United States. TRI data are widely cited in press stories on "top polluters," but they have limitations that the Toxic 100 addresses:
TRI data are reported simply in terms of total pounds of chemicals. The RSEI data factors in relative toxicities of TRI chemicals. Pound-for-pound, some chemicals are up to ten million times more hazardous than others.The RSEI data account for exposures and numbers of people impacted by the release of toxic chemicals based on modeling designed by the EPA.The PERI research team matches RSEI data, reported on a facility-by-facility basis, with information on corporate ownership of these facilities. PERI develops a picture of overall corporate performance that is essential to engaging corporate leaders in finding ways to reduce toxic pollution.
Earth Policy Institute;
For years now, many members of Congress have insisted that cutting carbon emissions was difficult, if not impossible. It is not. During the two years since 2007, carbon emissions have dropped 9 percent. While part of this drop is from the recession, part of it is also from efficiency gains and from replacing coal with natural gas, wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
The United States has ended a century of rising carbon emissions and has now entered a new energy era, one of declining emissions. Peak carbon is now history. What had appeared to be hopelessly difficult is happening at amazing speed.
For a country where oil and coal use have been growing for more than a century, the fall since 2007 is startling. In 2008, oil use dropped 5 percent, coal 1 percent, and carbon emissions by 3 percent. Estimates for 2009, based on U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data for the first nine months, show oil use down by another 5 percent. Coal is set to fall by 10 percent. Carbon emissions from burning all fossil fuels dropped 9 percent over the two years.
Beyond the cuts already made, there are further massive reductions in the policy pipeline. Prominent among them are stronger automobile fuel-economy standards, higher appliance efficiency standards, and financial incentives supporting the large-scale development of wind, solar, and geothermal energy. (See data at www.earthpolicy.org.)
Efforts to reduce fossil fuel use are under way at every level of government -- national, state, and city -- as well as in corporations, utilities, and universities. And millions of climate-conscious, cost-cutting Americans are altering their lifestyles to reduce energy use.
For its part, the federal government -- the largest U.S. energy consumer, with some 500,000 buildings and 600,000 vehicles -- announced in early October 2009 that it is setting its own carbon-cutting goals. These include reducing vehicle fleet fuel use 30 percent by 2020, recycling at least 50 percent of waste by 2015, and buying environmentally responsible products.
Electricity use is falling partly because of gains in efficiency. The potential for further cuts is evident in the wide variation in energy efficiency among states. The Rocky Mountain Institute calculates that if the 40 least-efficient states were to reach the electrical efficiency of the 10 most-efficient ones, national electricity use would be reduced by one third. This would allow the equivalent of 62 percent of the country's 617 coal-fired power plants to be closed.
Actions are being taken to realize this potential. For several years DOE failed to write the regulations needed to implement appliance efficiency legislation that Congress had already passed. Within days of taking office, President Obama instructed the agency to write the regulations needed to realize these potentially vast efficiency gains as soon as possible.
The energy efficiency revolution that is now under way will transform everything from lighting to transportation. With lighting, for example, shifting from incandescent bulbs to the newer light-emitting diodes (LEDs), combined with motion sensors to turn lights off in unoccupied spaces, can cut electricity use by more than 90 percent. Los Angeles, for example, is replacing its 140,000 street lights with LEDs -- and cutting electricity and maintenance costs by $10 million per year.
The carbon-cutting movement is gaining momentum on many fronts. In July, the Sierra Club -- coordinator of the national anti-coal campaign -- announced the hundredth cancellation of a proposed plant since 2001. This battle is leading to a de facto moratorium on new coal plants. Despite the coal industry's $45-million annual budget to promote "clean coal," utilities are giving up on coal and starting to close plants. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), with 11 coal plants (average age 47 years) and a court order to install over $1 billion worth of pollution controls, is considering closing its plant near Rogersville, Tennessee, along with the six oldest units out of eight in its Stevenson, Alabama, plant.
TVA is not alone. Altogether, some 22 coal-fired power plants in 12 states are being replaced by wind farms, natural gas plants, wood chip plants, or efficiency gains. Many more are likely to close as public pressure to clean up the air and to cut carbon emissions intensifies. Shifting from coal to natural gas cuts carbon emissions by roughly half. Shifting to wind, solar, and geothermal energy drops them to zero.
State governments are getting behind renewables big time. Thirty-four states have adopted renewable portfolio standards to produce a larger share of their electricity from renewable sources over the next decade or so. Among the more populous states, the renewable standard is 24 percent in New York, 25 percent in Illinois, and 33 percent in California.
While coal plants are closing, wind farms are multiplying. In 2008, a total of 102 wind farms came online, providing more than 8,400 megawatts of generating capacity. Forty-nine wind farms were completed in the first half of 2009 and 57 more are under construction. More important, some 300,000 megawatts of wind projects (think 300 coal plants) are awaiting access to the grid.
U.S. solar cell installations are growing at 40 percent a year. With new incentives, this rapid growth in rooftop installations on homes, shopping malls, and factories should continue. In addition, some 15 large solar thermal power plants that use mirrors to concentrate sunlight and generate electricity are planned in California, Arizona, and Nevada. A new heat-storage technology that enables the plants to continue generating power for up to six hours past sundown helps explain this boom.
For many years, U.S. geothermal energy was confined largely to the huge Geysers project north of San Francisco, with 850 megawatts of generating capacity. Now the United States, with 132 geothermal power plants under development, is experiencing a geothermal renaissance.
After their century-long love-affair with the car, Americans are turning to mass transit. There is hardly a U.S. city that is not either building new light rail, subways, or express bus lines or upgrading and expanding existing ones.
As motorists turn to public transit, and also to bicycles, the U.S. car fleet is shrinking. The estimated scrappage of 14 million cars in 2009 will exceed new sales of 10 million by 4 million, shrinking the fleet 2 percent in one year. This shrinkage will likely continue for a few years.
Oil use and imports are both declining. This will continue as the new fuel economy standards raise the fuel efficiency of new cars 42 percent and light trucks 25 percent by 2016. And since 42 percent of the diesel fuel burned in the rail freight sector is used to haul coal, falling coal use means falling diesel fuel use.
But the big gains in fuel efficiency will come with the shift to plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars. Not only are electric motors three times more efficient than gasoline engines, but they also enable cars to run on wind power at a gasoline-equivalent cost of 75-cents a gallon. Almost every major car maker will soon be selling plug-in hybrids, electric cars, or both.
In this new energy era carbon emissions are declining and they will likely continue to do so because of policies already on the books. We are headed in the right direction. We do not yet know how much we can cut carbon emissions because we are just beginning to make a serious effort. Whether we can move fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate change remains to be seen.
# # #
Lester R. Brown is President of the Earth Policy Institute and author of Plan B 4.0:
Mobilizing to Save Civilization
Data and additional resources at www.earthpolicy.org
Reah Janise Kauffman
Tel: (202) 496-9290 x12
E-mail: rji (at) earthpolicy.org
Tel: (202) 496-9290 x14
E-mail: jlarsen (at) earthpolicy.org
Earth Policy Institute
1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 403
Washington, DC 20036
Earth Policy Institute;
In Chapter 1 of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Lester Brown underscores important indicators of global stability and resource consumption. The following are summaries of key datasets that inform these discussions.