**This blog post is the first in a series discussing the chilling effects TTIP will likely have on laws to better protect people and the environment from toxic chemicals in both the United States and European Union.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is not a conventional trade agreement. TTIP is a regulatory agreement — a regulatory agreement designed to prevent regulatory divergence. Another word for regulatory divergence on environmental issues is progress.
Regulatory divergence is how we have made progress on most environmental issues, with one jurisdiction going beyond the status quo, often to increase public protections through stronger regulations — resulting in divergent standards.
For example, regulatory divergence is how progress was first made to protect people and the environment from toxic substances that are unquestionably hazardous, such as:
- DDT and other highly hazardous pesticides;
- Ozone depleting substances;
- Some hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals, such as certain phthalates, PCBs, mercury and lead;
- Several iterations of toxic flame retardants; and
- Some carcinogens.
To say progress is necessary on persistent exposure to hazardous chemicals in our everyday lives is an understatement. Progress on unaddressed chemicals of concern, at least 1400 substances, is unlikely to happen without regulatory divergence.
Proponents of TTIP point to the hypothetical economic growth in GDP that could be gained by preventing regulatory divergence, but they ignore the cost of inaction on public health and environmental challenges that remain unsolved.
Toxic chemicals are a public health problem that remains unsolved as evidenced by:
- A 20 % increase in childhood cancers over the past 17 years, a 20 % increase that cannot be explained by lifestyle choices or genetics alone.
- The public health impacts, including health care costs, of broken laws like the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) are massive.
- In the absence of meaningful action by the U.S. federal government, over 30 states in the US have taken action to address this urgent and growing challenge.
- In fact, the EU, individual states within the US, and other governments are doing more to protect Americans from toxic chemicals than our own federal government.
We need stronger laws that will drive innovation toward safer, cleaner and better solutions to protect present and future generations. TTIP is designed to have a chilling effect on progress on these and other urgent issues to protect public health and the environment which require the power of government action.
Given the regulatory implications of TTIP, it is wholly undemocratic for negotiations to be conducted in secrecy and for Congress to even consider granting Trade Promotion or Fast Track Authority to the Executive branch.
Following articles will illustrate how provisions suggested by negotiators for inclusion in TTIP will have a chilling effect on laws to better protect people and the environment from toxic chemicals.
Originally posted on December 16, 2013.