HIGHTOWER: Methanex Inc. Overrules California

Join me now for another trip into the Far, Far, Far Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you into the "Brave New World Order," where citizens of sovereign states are relieved of the burden of decision-making, turning matters of public policy over to global corporations. The good citizens of California are waking up to the joys of this new world, thanks to NAFTA and a Canadian corporation named Methanex.In March of 1999, the governor of California announced a phase-out of a cancer-causing gasoline additive called MTBE -- Methyl Teriaty Butyl Ether. It seems that MTBE has been leaking into the ground water, the lakes, and some 10,000 wells throughout California. So the governor, the highest-elected official of the people in the most populous state in America said, in effect, I don't think we need cancer in our water, so we'll just say no to this additive.Halt! Step back, said Methanex Inc., which manufactures an ingredient used in the banned additive. Such a move by the elected governor interferes with the profit-making potential of our investors, and under Chapter 11 of NAFTA, this is an illegal "expropriation" of profits we would have made. Therefore, sayeth Methanex, ye Californians must withdraw your ban on MTBE, or the taxpayers of the United States must pay us a billion dollars.Why do I think of the Mafia when I hear of absolutely insane shakedowns like this?Of course, this nonsense would be hooted out of any court in the US of A. But, under NAFTA -- which the Clinton White House and the Republican congress hung around our necks -- corporations like Methanex don't take these cases to our courts, but to secretive, anti-democratic international trade tribunals.This is Jim Hightower saying ... It's another example of the Globaloney of corporate globalization. Who voted for this?

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close