Subj: Fwd: Meet the REAL Government
Date: 1/30/02 11:34:53 PM Pacific Standard Time

New Bill Moyers documentary on TUESDAY FEBRUARY 5th at 10:00 PM (all
time zones) on PBS entitled: "Trading Democracy."
"Trading Democracy" is a one-hour documentary that covers, in
understandable terms, the legal and technical aspects of NAFTA's
investor rules. These rules allow corporations to sue countries directly
to overturn legitimate public interest laws and regulations when they
believe their actual or potential corporate profits have been
undermined. Incredibly, these suits are decided in secret by unelected
bureaucrats who have been given the power to determine whether laws
ranging from zoning ordinances to environmental protections constitute
an interference with corporate profits.
Already Chapter 11 has led to corporate assaults against health, safety
and environmental laws, with one company demanding compensation close to
$1 billion. Beyond that, even "Buy America" laws intended to protect our
country's steel industry are now under attack by multi-national
corporate profiteers.
Amazingly, the Bush Administration is now in negotiations to expand this
dangerous NAFTA investor provision to 31 more countries in the
hemisphere, through the so-called Free Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA). The first step in paving the way to this expansion of the reach
of Chapter 11 will be a soon-to-be held senate vote on the
Baucus/Grassley Fast Track bill.
Documentary Exposing How NAFTA's Chapter 11 Has Become Private Justice
For Foreign Companies
Premieres February 5, at 10:00 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings)
Newest Collaboration Between Bill Moyers And Sherry Jones Investigating
Our Democracy At Risk
Three years after a Mississippi jury found a Canadian-based conglomerate
guilty of fraud in attempting to put a family-owned Biloxi funeral home
out of business, the Canadian company filed a claim against the United
States, demanding $725 million in compensation. When California banned a
gasoline additive that had contaminated drinking water throughout the
state, another Canadian firm sued the U.S. government to force citizens
to pay nearly 1 billion dollars for its potential lost profits.
In what one attorney called "an end-run around the Constitution,"
corporations are using a little-known provision of the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to challenge public laws, regulations and
jury verdicts not only in the United States, but in Canada and Mexico as
  And, they are arguing those cases not in courts of law, but before
secret trade tribunals.
How can this be happening? And why do so few people know about it? In
the latest in their series of exposes on the secret recesses of American
democracy, Bill Moyers and Sherry Jones uncover how multinational
corporations have acquired the power to demand compensation if laws
aimed at protecting the environment or public health harm them
financially. The one-hour documentary, BILL MOYERS REPORTS: TRADING
DEMOCRACY, premieres February 5 at 10:00 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local
listings). "When the North American Free Trade Agreement became the law
of the land almost a decade ago, the debate we heard was about jobs,"
notes Bill Moyers. "One provision was too obscure to stir up
controversy. It was called Chapter 11, and it was supposedly written to
protect investors from having their property seized by foreign
governments. But since NAFTA was ratified, corporations have used
Chapter 11 to challenge the powers of government to protect its
citizens, to undermine environmental and health laws, even attack our
system of justice." Speaking with legislators, public policy experts,
community leaders and citizens about the lawsuits filed under NAFTA's
Chapter 11, BILL MOYERS REPORTS: TRADING DEMOCRACY unravels the hidden
repercussions of a treaty that was supposed to promote democracy through
free trade, but now appears to have given deep-pocketed corporations the
means to undermine democracy across international borders. The program
explores the case of Methanex, a Canadian company that is the world's
largest producer of the key ingredient in the gasoline additive MTBE,
which was found to be a carcinogen. In 1995 MTBE began turning up in
wells throughout California, and by 1999 had contaminated thirty public
water systems. The state ordered that the additive be phased out.
Methanex filed suit under NAFTA's Chapter 11, seeking $970 million in
compensation for loss of market share and, consequently, future profits.
With regard to the Methanex case, environmental attorney Martin Wagner
tells Moyers, "they're saying that California either can't implement
this protection or that they get a billion dollars. People should be
outraged by that."
As Moyers reports, many people who have been affected by MTBE
contamination are indeed outraged. But they are helpless to do anything.
The NAFTA tribunal that will decide the Methanex case - like all the
tribunals hearing Chapter Eleven-based cases - is closed to the public.
Yet, it is the taxpayers "who will foot the bill if the tribunal decides
in favor of the Canadian company," says Moyers. But the ramifications
for the public go well beyond the loss of taxpayer dollars, a journalist
William Greider explains. "If Methanex wins its billion dollar claim
over California environmental law, there ain't gonna be many states
enacting that law, are there?" he says, adding that the NAFTA provision
"hobbles the authority of government to act in the broader public
interest. And, in fact, that was the idea in the first place."
Addressing a Chapter 11 case in which the Ethyl Corporation, an American
manufacturer of another gasoline additive called MMT, successfully sued
Canada over a ban on the product, Greider tells Moyers: "Governments are
already being intimidated by the mere threat of a claim being filed
against some regulatory action. If you're a civil servant, or even a
political leader, you've got to think twice when a corporate lawyer
comes to you and says, quite forcefully, we're going to hit you for a
half a billion dollars if you do this." Moyers also takes his
investigation south of the border to the Mexican state of San Luis
Potosi, where an American company called Metalclad tried to bulldoze
over the protests of both state and local governments to reopen a toxic
waste dump that many citizens feared was making them sick. When
Metalclad was stopped by the local town council the company invoked
Chapter 11 and was awarded $16 million in compensation. The crux of
Metalclad's victory was the Chapter 11 phrase "tantamount to
expropriation." As Martin Wagner explains: "Not only do governments have
to compensate when they expropriate or take away property, but they have
to do so whenever they do something that is 'tantamount to
expropriation'." Challenges being mounted under Chapter 11 are not only
directed toward regulatory activity, they are also successfully
overruling jury decisions in civil courts of law. The documentary
explores a case in Mississippi where a Biloxi funeral home owner was
awarded punitive damages by a jury in a civil suit against a large
Canadian corporation called the Loewen Group. The local funeral home
owner alleged that the Loewen Group had engaged in "fraudulent" and
"predatory" trade practices, and the jury found against the Canadian
company. Three years later, the Loewen Group filed a Chapter 11 claim
against American taxpayers saying the jury was biased against Canadians,
and in a preliminary ruling, the NAFTA tribunal has declared the
Mississippi trial a legitimate target. The Loewen suit, notes Moyers,
"could conceivably open the U.S. civil justice system to challenge -
including decisions of the United States Supreme Court." This startling
realization, and the knowledge that corporate giants are pushing to
expand NAFTA to 31 more countries in the Western Hemisphere, prompts
Moyers to ask, "Are we promoting democracy - as we claim - or trading it
Want more information about Chapter 11? Visit these links: Public
Citizen released a comprehensive report on Chapter 11 called: "NAFTA
Chapter 11 Investor-to-State Cases: Bankrupting Democracy": There is also a
shorter article from Multinational Monitor "NAFTA's Investor "Rights" A
Corporate Dream, A Citizen Nightmare" that is well worth reading: Several
organizations have also released information on Chapter 11, including
Center for International Environmental Law (, Friends of
the Earth ( and the Sierra Club (www.sierraclub.o rg). (For
a list of some necessary revisions to Chapter 11, check out the letter
from Congressman Doggett (D-TX) on the web-page:,Eshoo_Chp._11,_Pres.

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