Concessions In WTO Online Gambling Case Showing Damages


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In what may be the first in a series of dangerous concessions the U.S. has given to the EU in order to withdraw its commitments at the WTO for recreational online gambling is about to happen.

Suez Energy North America Inc, a subsidiary of a Parisian company that financed the Suez Canal, is proposing new natural gas terminals located eight and ten miles off the shore of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. That plan includes utilizing super tankers that will deliver liquefied natural gas to the terminals where it will be converted to gas and be delivered to massive pipelines directly into Port Everglades where it will tie into existing state gas pipelines.

The platforms will be deep-water ports supported by buoys, turrets, anchors and pipes, where it will be delivered to South Florida Power plants.

The result, aside from the obvious possible hazards of explosions, hurricane damage, and a variety of environmental problems, will also cut off approximately 2.9 miles of deep-water fishing surrounding the sites.

Environmentalists are concerned that such a project, with its extensive use of anchor chains, will disrupt and disturb about 140 acres of underwater sea life, including nearby coral. Sea Turtle hatchlings that use the area as a refuge from predators will no longer have that safety. Fear is high that the extra shipping would cause the killing of whales and sea turtles by striking them as they move about the area.

It is estimated that ship and port operations would take in about 43.6 million gallons of seawater every day, discharging it at a much higher temperature than the surrounding water, which will affect the algae and larval fish in the area. Air pollution will be generated through the burning of natural gas, and the potential for damage to the Florida coast could be devastating.

Tile-fish, golden crab and coral will all be affected. Fisherman and boating enthusiasts will be not allowed near the area once the project begins. If approved, the platforms are expected to be in operation in 2010-11.

Americans should demand that their government take a hard look at any deals made by the USTR that will ultimately bring harm to this country such as the one stated above, and question whether it is wise to trade off these important areas just to deny foreign companies the right to provide a service they are legally entitled to provide via a long-standing treaty signed by the U.S.

Internet gambling is allowed in the United States and it is active in this area. The government has taken a position that it is illegal and is denying foreign operators the right to do this, at the same time allowing domestic companies to provide this service. This form of protectionism is going to cost Americans so much in so many different ways that one must wonder what the motivating forces behind the U.S. decision really is. To look at the issue objectively, why would the U.S. say it is illegal, yet license domestic companies the right to conduct this type of gambling, yet deny foreigners the same rights.

Americans, workers, environmentalists, corporations, complete industries that have nothing to do with gambling, must question the sanity of this unusual and biased approach the USTR has taken, and then weigh the costs of this withdrawal of services against the more simple method of relaxing the prohibition and abiding by its treaties.