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house Bill H.R. 1946

Increased Penalties for Overseas Companies That Ignore Environmental Laws

Argument in favor

Levels the playing field between U.S. and foreign companies and incentivizes foreign companies to protect the environment.

Takes away the incentive for companies to outsource jobs overseas. And helps improve the environment.
Like (8)
Elinor's Opinion
Those pollutants do not stay with national borders.
Like (3)
John's Opinion
I say tax on all imports from China and India

Argument opposed

Could lead to an increase in the cost of goods made overseas and damage the U.S.'s relations with foreign countries.

John's Opinion
It is their country's responsibility to enforce environmental laws...
Like (3)
Marvin's Opinion
Just think of China. Think of how much this country has destroyed the world, its people, its natural beauty. Think about the lack of purity in their foods that they export to us. A ban should be imposed.
Like (2)
Mark's Opinion
How another country treats their environment is none of the USA's concern, as long as the products they export to the US are safe.
Like (1)

What is House Bill H.R. 1946?

This bill would expand provisions of the 1974 Trade and Environment Enforcement Act. Specifically, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) would have the power to impose penalties, including tariffs, for countries that violate any of the conditions set out in the legislation.

Countries that could be subject to penalties would be those that:
  • Fail to effectively enforce environmental laws;
  • Waive or stray from environmental laws of or weaken protections afforded by such laws;
  • Don't hold judicial or administrative proceedings over violations of environmental laws;
  • Fail to effectively punish violations of environmental laws;
  • Fail to effectively enforce environmental commitments in agreements to which a foreign country and the United States are involved. 
The bill also directs the USTR to find out which foreign countries are doing things that damage the environment of the U.S., the foreign country, or other countries.


Foreign countries that violate environmental law; the USTR.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1946

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) argued in a press release that the bill would help ensure the U.S. doesn't have a competitive disadvantage in trade deals:
"These bills provide an opportunity to secure and enforce the best possible environmental protections in U.S. trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Oregon companies take pride in their commitment to the environment, and we should ensure our trading partners are held accountable and meet their obligations to raise standards abroad."
Of Note: This bill has been proposed before. In 2013, Rep. Blumenauer introduced the bill, but it never reached a vote on the floor of the House.

Previous attempts at establishing international environmental law have been questionably successful due to an inability to get negotiating countries to make the laws enforceable. As Oren Cass at Politico points out, the recent Paris Climate Deal has basically no enforcement mechanism:
"the final submissions are not enforceable, and carry no consequences beyond 'shame' for noncompliance — a fact bizarrely taken for granted by all involved."
Another previous attempt at international environmental regulation was the Kyoto Protocol. However, as CBC News explains, there was no way to ensure the countries that agreed to reduce their carbon emissions would actually follow through. For example, when Canada realized it wouldn't meet its commitments, it simply left the Protocol without consequences. 


Summary by: Chris Conrad

(Photo Credit: Chinasmog)


Green 301 Act

Official Title

To amend the Trade Act of 1974 to authorize the United States Trade Representative to take discretionary action if a foreign country is engaging in unreasonable acts, policies, or practices relating to the environment, and for other purposes.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedApril 22nd, 2015