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US, Mexico border Govs seek energy, water, legal cooperation
Mexico should open its energy markets to greater US investment, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said on Aug. 10. In a speech on the closing day of the Border Governors’ Conference, Perry called for more cross-border economic development. “One of the best ways to expand opportunity in Mexico and the US is for American energy companies to be able to participate in the development of Mexico’s vast oil, gas and electric markets,” Perry said. “We can create thousands of jobs for people on both sides of the border, create new wealth and opportunity, meet the electrical demand that is predicted to double by 2020 in Mexico with the greater liberalization.”The governors of US and Mexican states agreed on Aug. 9 to improve security along their borders. “One of the best ways to secure our individual homelands is by working together - sharing information, technology and personnel with a common goal of preparedness, security and the smooth and continued flow of goods, services and people,” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said.
The governor of the Mexican state of Baja California, Eugenio Elorduy Walther, said law enforcement agencies in each border state would create liaison units to improve the exchange of information about criminals and security issues. He and Richardson said there would be joint training programs for law enforcement agencies and joint exercises along the border. Elorduy said the joint exercises, “will improve responding to critical incidents such as natural disasters, weapons of mass destruction or other terrorist acts.”
The agreement was worked out during the past year by a group of law enforcement officials appointed by the border governors. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said the agreement will provide for a “border security region” rather than a piecemeal approach of “one country versus another country, one state versus another state.”
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a speech at the conference’s opening ceremony, called for border states to work together on energy policies, including an energy conservation campaign with expanded production of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind-generated electricity. He pointed out that the Western Governors Association has endorsed a goal for Western states of producing 30,000 megawatts of so-called clean energy by 2015 and improving the efficiency of energy usage by 20% by 2020.
“Conservation is so important because saving those resources is much easier and also cheaper and better for our shared economy and environment than producing new supplies only to waste them,” Schwarzenegger said.
Richardson, chairman of the conference, said border states should focus on water and environmental problems. “We need regional, comprehensive approaches to resolving the water issues. We can’t go our separate ways,” he said. The federal government, through the International Boundary and Water Commission, hasn’t provided needed leadership to settle differences over water between Mexico and the US, including water in the Rio Grande and Colorado rivera, Richardson said.
Governors from the four US states and six Mexican states at the conference need to explore a “bi-national multistate collaborative approach on water,” Richardson said. He also said Mexico and the US need to improve controls over hazardous waste. “Too much hazardous waste is ending up on both sides being dumped on our fields, our waterways and the desert,” he said.
His remarks came at a forum on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect a decade ago. Chihuahua Gov. Patricio Martinez also called for a greater focus on border water problems. A former US ambassador to Mexico, Jim Jones, said the US, Mexico and Canada should move beyond NAFTA and set a goal of establishing a “borderless economy” within the next decade.
NAFTA has succeeded in expanding international trade and creating jobs, he and other economic experts said at the forum. However, Jones said the agreement was “only half successful” in improving social and economic conditions for many Mexica
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