The opposition to President Obama’s trade agenda from labor groups has received most of the attention lately, now that legislation that would give the administration greater authority to negotiate international deals is stalled in Congress.

But environmental groups, another important constituency for Democrats, are also concerned about the trade pacts currently being negotiated. The Washington Post’s Steven Mufson explains:

The influential environmental groups — a key part of the effort to rally the Democratic base against the fast-track bill for trade talks — believe that a new trade pact could set back important gains achieved over the past two decades. By contrast, the White House argues, as senior adviser Brian Deese put it in a recent Web posting, that this is “a once-in-a-generation chance to protect our oceans, wildlife, and the environment.”

The trade issue pits Obama, who has devoted himself to slowing climate change, against environmental groups, which are clamoring for tougher terms…

Their greatest fear about the trade pact under negotiation is that it would allow multinational corporations to ask international tribunals to overrule domestic regulations and laws. Rather than raise environmental standards to higher levels, the agreement would result in a “race to the bottom,” according to League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski.