Sierra Club thanks all of the members of Congress who stood up for our climate, communities, and children by voting against Trump's NAFTA 2.0, or USMCA -- a deal that would lock in Trump's polluting legacy for years after he has left office by helping corporate polluters dodge climate policies, expand fossil fuels, and dump toxic pollution.
Here are quotes from some of the climate champions in Congress who have spotlighted the deal's climate and environmental failures as core reasons for voting no. We applaud these climate leaders and look forward to working with Congress to craft a new model of trade that replaces Trump’s corporate polluter giveaways with binding climate standards, support for good clean energy jobs, and enforceable protections for people and planet.
Chuck Schumer: "I am voting against USMCA because it does not address climate change, the greatest threat facing the planet. Instead of advancing global climate security by outlining binding and enforceable climate commitments from all three countries, the Trump administration provides significant incentives for manufacturers to move their business and their jobs from the U.S. to Mexico, where clean air and clean water regulations are much weaker. Meanwhile, the Trump administration also included handouts for the oil and gas industry, such as lifting tariffs on tar sands, and refused to include any mention of the climate crisis in the agreement. When it comes to climate change, the agreement still contains many of the same flaws of the original NAFTA, which I voted against."
Bernie Sanders: "Mr. President, there is a reason why virtually every major environmental group is opposed to Trump’s NAFTA 2.0. This agreement does nothing to stop fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron from dumping their waste and pollution into Mexico and destroying the environment. In fact, it makes it easier for fossil fuel companies to bring tar sands oil into the United States through dangerous pipelines like the Keystone XL. It does not even mention the words “climate change”—the most existential threat facing our planet. The deal preserves the disastrous Investor-State Dispute Settlement system for oil and gas companies, allowing them to continue to put corporate profits ahead of our air, water, climate and health."
Kamala Harris: "After careful study and consultation with environmental and conservation leaders, I have concluded that the USMCA’s environmental provisions are insufficient—and by not addressing climate change, the USMCA fails to meet the crises of this moment. Californians know that the climate crisis is already here. Communities across our state have experienced exacerbated fires, storms, floods, and drought, and the devastation will only get worse if we fail to take bold and immediate action to address it. This agreement will set the standards for decades, and I believe Californians and all Americans deserve better and more immediate action. For these reasons, I oppose this deal."
Cory Booker: "The renegotiation of NAFTA presented a once in a generation opportunity to work with Canada and Mexico to take bold action to address critical issues such as job loss, low wages, environmental degradation, and our most urgent crisis – climate change. Some may say these goals – negotiating trade agreements and expanding protections for American families – should be treated separately. But to me, they are inseparable. USMCA does not meaningfully address any of these issues: jobs will continue to be outsourced, the environment will continue to be under attack, and middle class and working families will continue to be left behind...Climate change is not even mentioned in USMCA, and upon reflection I cannot support a trade deal that does nothing to address this existential threat. USMCA also doesn’t include measures to reduce air and water pollution, and continues to allow corporate polluters to sue and block climate and environmental protections."
Kirsten Gillibrand: "This agreement is a missed opportunity to address the urgent threats we face from climate change. It fails to close loopholes for corporate polluters or set binding, enforceable standards to protect clean air and water. The United States has a once in a generation opportunity to reprioritize our economy with two of our three largest trading partners. Unfortunately, this agreement falls well short and I cannot support it.”
Edward Markey: "Despite this climate emergency, the USMCA trade deal fails to even mention climate change – the most important issue of our time. It has no climate or environmental standards, which will mire progress on this generational challenge. The trade deal includes explicit giveaways for the fossil fuel industry, making it cheaper to export dirty tar sands oil and continues giving the gas industry carte blanche to export American gas to Mexico. It also gives polluters new power over the policymaking process while continuing old rules that allow fossil fuel companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil to file suit in secret tribunals against climate or environmental policies. The USMCA is a trade deal that will hinder progress on climate action for a generation. This is a profound environmental and climate failure."
Sheldon Whitehouse: "The new agreement also represents a missed opportunity to battle climate change and to reduce pollution. Regrettably, it continues to protect corporate polluters by allowing oil and gas giants to oppose environmental regulation through the secretive ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ process. It also fails to include a binding and independent process for the enforcement of environmental commitments."
Jack Reed: "Senator Reed opposed the original NAFTA because he thought it was bad for Rhode Islanders and this updated version remains flawed...It still fails to provide adequately for Rhode Island’s workers and is a missed opportunity to address climate change and environmental protections in a meaningful way. Just like the old NAFTA, he cannot support this new one."
Paul Tonko, Co-Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition: “For 25 years, we watched NAFTA outsource American jobs. Under this agreement, we will see the continued outsourcing of pollution, undermining our domestic and international efforts to address climate change...The United States must get serious about the challenge of a changing climate and build international cooperation and commitments through all vehicles available to us, including our trade agreements. Trade negotiations do not happen frequently, but their impact is felt for generations. I cannot support a deal which fails to even acknowledge the global climate crisis that future generations will be left to bear.”
Pramila Jayapal, Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force: “Every leading environmental organization has opposed the USMCA with force because it fails in all environmental priority areas. Climate change is the singular crisis of our time, and we cannot afford to kick the can down the road”
Mark Pocan, Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus: “The deal also fails to take a once in a generation opportunity for North America to take bold, collective action to address the climate crisis that threatens the future of our entire planet.”
Jared Huffman: “The NAFTA renegotiations were a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lift labor and environmental standards across the continent. This is our last chance for the next several decades to use trade – arguably our most powerful lever – to lock in serious climate commitments with two of our largest trading partners and dramatically improve labor standards and enforcement to slow the rise of outsourcing. Sadly, because the Trump administration denies climate change and is beholden to the fossil fuel industry, this agreement does not even mention climate change. Because this agreement is unlikely to be renegotiated for decades, it is worse than a missed opportunity to confront the climate crisis; it’s a foreclosed opportunity.”
Frank Pallone, Chair of Energy and Commerce: “The agreement does not create a binding enforcement system that curbs environmental violations.”
Peter DeFazio, Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure: “I believe that the USMCA will continue to promote pro-polluter, climate-denying policies. This agreement should take bold steps to address climate change and to curb corporate polluting at a critical time when we need transformational solutions to address the existential threat of climate change...There are no substantive provisions to seriously curb air and water pollution, the deal completely ignores climate change, and its environmental enforcement mechanism is not nearly strong enough.”
Chuy Garcia: “In September, I joined 110 of my colleagues to urge binding climate standards be included in this agreement...In the face of a global climate crisis, the USMCA fails to include binding climate standards or even mention the words ‘climate change.’ Exemptions for U.S. oil and gas firms were maintained through terms that preserved Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) rights for U.S. firms with contracts in Mexico.”
Nanette Barragán, Co-Chair of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force: "Although there were labor and enforcement improvements made with the USMCA, climate change is a crisis that must be urgently addressed and accounted for in our trade agreements. The USMCA falls far short of that so I joined national environmental organizations and the youth climate movement to oppose the agreement."
Alan Lowenthal, Vice Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition: “It is critical to note that the agreement lacks binding, enforceable commitments to curb harmful emissions. Our continent must grapple with the global climate crisis and enact bold solutions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. That is why I voted against H.R. 5430. It is vital that future trade agreements include these provisions, and I intend to push the next president to add the Paris Agreement commitments to the USMCA during their first 100 days.”
Eliot Engel, Chair of Foreign Affairs: “I thought I would vote no and show my concern with the lack of environmental proposals in the bill.”
Joe Kennedy: “The rising generation faces two deeply intertwined crises: economic inequality & climate change. Given the stakes of those fights, our country can no longer indulge in international agreements that don’t aggressively combat both. That’s why I voted against the USMCA today.”
Chellie Pingree, Vice Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition: “USMCA also ignores the reality of the climate crisis and does not hold global polluters to account. It’s foolishly shortsighted to not even mention the words ‘climate change’ in this major trade agreement. This omission will have major implications for Maine, which breathes the prevailing winds from the west and already has the highest rates of asthma in the nation. Our state is also grappling with the fastest warming waters in the world and rising sea levels. Without environmental protection in the agreement, the climate crisis will only accelerate and irreversibly damage Maine. It's been two decades since the original NAFTA, and the new agreement will likely be in place for years. We were given an incredible opportunity to negotiate the significant issues in the original NAFTA and prioritize both people and the planet. Unfortunately, USCMA does neither. For the future of our workforce and environment, I will vote no.”
Marcia Fudge: “The trade agreement also fails to address climate change in a meaningful way...Protecting our workers and their collective bargaining rights and addressing climate change in a way that supports workers in frontline communities like Cleveland and Akron are very important to me.”
Tony Cardenas: NAFTA 2.0 “does not meet the environmental standards of a trade deal in the 21st century. Additionally, there was not a single mention of climate change in the text of the bill. As Democrats who are unified in our commitment to combat the growing climate crisis, it is unfortunate the final text of the bill omitted any mention of climate change.”
Lacy Clay: NAFTA 2.0 “fails to require sufficiently tougher standards for environmental protection”
Mark DeSaulnier: “I do not have confidence that American workers and the environment are adequately protected. With the harm workers in my district suffered after NAFTA was enacted, we must do more to protect against outsourcing and simultaneously provide stronger environmental protections to combat the effects of climate change while the White House denies its impacts.”
Bill Pascrell: “...repeatedly emphasized that any new NAFTA agreement must contain strong enforceable labor provisions that can be implemented and then monitored meaningfully, environmental standards that can lift all boats and block companies from dumping in waterways or polluting the air…”
Pete Visclosky: “NAFTA has also led to the degradation of our environment through the lack of strong environmental protections and the consequent increase of greenhouse gas emissions in North America...In regard to environmental protections, the USMCA includes a provision that recognizes pollution as a threat to public health. However, it does not create binding standards and omits essential limits on air, water, and land pollution, which could create more challenges for future generations.”