A key principle of land use in the United States is that homeowners can often veto new buildings on nearby land that other people own. A trade agreement that’s currently in the works could have a huge impact on that long-established system of local control.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade pact that would change the rules for investments and trade among its signers. It’s currently in behind-closed-doors negotiation among 12 countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Singapore. Other countries could join later.
A recently leaked draft of the TPP gives investors from member nations the right to sue when a decision by a local government “interferes with distinct, reasonable investment-backed expectations.”
Panels of private lawyers chosen by the investors and the federal government will meet to decide the suits. If the investors win, the federal government must reimburse them for the loss of future profits.
Critics of the TPP argue that it could gut environmental and health regulation. They point to the past history of trade agreements to back up that concern. The TPP’s backers, on the other hand, assert that the treaty only bans arbitrary or discriminatory actions.
No matter who turns out to be right about that, the pact is likely to undermine local oversight of land use.
The TPP Goes Against the Spirit of American Land Use Law
Read the entire article