NAFTA Rules Can Trump State Laws

The Associated Press has this crucially important story out on the wire:


International trade tribunals seen trumping state laws
MONTPELIER, Vt. --A Canadian company wants to open a new plant in Claremont, N.H., to bottle fresh water from a source in Stockbridge, Vt.
But if Vermont wants to limit how much water the company takes, it may run afoul of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
States around the country are growing increasingly worried about the threats posed to their laws and regulations by the secret tribunals that resolve disputes in international trade. Experts say everything from environmental rules to the licensing of nurses and other professionals could be affected.
"Free trade agreements are to state sovereignty and economic development what global climate change is to the environment and natural resources," said state Sen. Virginia Lyons, D-Chittenden. "I think it's a really significant issue for our state, and for every state in the country."
Vermont is one of seven states to establish committees to study the possible impacts of international trade on their laws.
Assistant Vermont Attorney General Elliot Burg said NAFTA and other trade agreements have opened up a path for international companies that want to circumvent state laws they don't like.
Read the full story here.

I delved into this issue in a recent nationally syndicated column, and how the issue is playing out on the series of proposed NAFTA expansions that Congress is currently considering. The Progressive States Network is working on legislative ways for states to fight back.
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