Chapter 20: The WTO, Services and the Environment
Robert K. Stumberg Global environmental services The WTO’s agreement on services – the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) – sets rules for the most dynamic sector of every country’s economy. But what exactly is the service economy? Consider the energy sector. The demand for natural gas far exceeds the supply in North America. One solution to this shortage is to import liqueﬁed natural gas (LNG) from other continents. The companies that manage global supply chains have evolved into networks of services – communications, ﬁnancing, logistics, transport, transactions – that are powerful enough to compete on a global scale. In the USA, ﬁve LNG ports are in place. Federal agencies have approved 23 new ports with 15 more pending (FERC, 2007). The ports dock tankers that carry LNG from Indonesia, Qatar, Algeria and Trinidad (EIA, 2007). The tankers are ﬂoating thermos bottles as long as three football ﬁelds; their LNG decompresses 600-fold into 5 billion cubic feet of natural gas (EIA, 2007). But this eﬃciency comes with risk. The risk was apparent in 1944, when one of the ﬁrst LNG plants leaked a cloud of gas that ignited and incinerated 131 people in Cleveland (Bureau of Mines, 1946). Since then, the industry has seen only eight marine leaks and a few onshore explosions (Foss, 2004). The most recent, an Algerian facility in 2004, killed 27 people over a square-mile area (Mobile Register, 2004). This was a rare accident, but it carries a post-9/11 message: LNG terminals are a target for terrorism....
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