texas-shaped hole in border pact

Now I know Lone Star politicos aren’t traditionally the cheerleading sort — especially when it comes to entering into “entangling alliances” (lest they be petrol-based), suspicious treaties (only “free” trade for our bannana growers), or — heck — abiding by international law (does sovereignty mean nothing?). How many disappointments must we Texicans and imported respirators bear?

Okay, so Bush won’t work with the world. I think we get that. But what’s up with Perry not working with neighbors in Coahuila or Arizona, for crying out loud? Why is our state the lone borderlands holdout to a pact dedicated to solving trans-boundary environmental problems?

Flashback! (Yes, still getting caught up on last week’s email.) Arnold, the Governator, trumpets something called the Western Climate Initiative at last week’s Border Governor’s Conference held in Hollywood. Happy I wasn’t called on to speak, cause I’ve never heard of the thing.

Turns out WCI, boasting among its ranks California, Arizona, and New Mexico (uh, the rest of El Norte’s border) — and “non-actor” observers Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, & Tamaulipas.

I have a brooding sense of Perry’s rationale for keeping a distance. Mess with our right to greenhouse gas emissions and the real Governator may start flashing that double-handed long sword, be-yatch

From Environmental News Service:

As host of the Border Governors Conference, Schwarzenegger used his keynote speech to expound on the theme of this year’s conference, Building Green Economies.

To help fight global warming, he pointed out, the Mexican border states have joined the Western Climate Initiative. They hold status as observers and so are not bound by the goal set by the WCI in August 2007 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its 11 member states in the west and in Canadian provinces that now extend as far east as Quebec.

In Hollywood today, Mexico’s top environmental official Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, who heads the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources, proposed the creation of state climate change plans to deal with the environmental impacts of global warming in a coordinated way.

He said the environmental agreement that Mexico signed recently with the state of California could be applied all along the border strip.

WCI partners (blue) and observers (yellow) and the DOA (gray).

Still, despite the Texas-shaped hole in WCI, a broad declaration capped the meeting, promising action on a field of challenging issues.

Here’s a snippet on energy, the environment, and public health from the joint declaration (pdf):


Identify and promote a United States-Mexico border region program for renewable energy by exchanging information on policies and financial incentives:

* Work with federal bi-national organizations, the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, the North American Development Bank and international organizations to facilitate project development.

* Identify financial opportunities for at least one renewable energy project before the end of 2009.

Develop a best practices program for energy savings and efficiency in the United States- Mexico border region communities:

* Work with Environment Worktable to identify those industrial commercial sectors in the border region that would benefit from the introduction of energy saving technologies and practices.

* Identify financing from state, federal, bi-national and international sources to support this effort.

Exchange information on energy infrastructure:

* Annually update information on energy infrastructure (e.g. power plants, transmission lines, gas pipelines) as part of the Border Governors Conference.

* Identify cooperative activities between energy authorities from Mexico and the United States.


Develop and introduce a legislative proposal or an appropriate regulation in the United States border states to require tire distributors and collection centers to render unusable scrap/waste tires to prevent them from being exported to Mexico. Request that Mexican federal authorities establish strict mechanisms to avoid the illegal importation of scrap/waste tires mixed in with used tires to Mexico. Execute the United States Environmental Protection Agency and SEMARNAT’s “Scrap Tire Integrated Management Initiative” among the Environment Worktable representatives.

Acknowledging the important role of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and North American Development Bank (NADBank) as financing tools to achieve adequate environmental management, both for solid waste and wastewater treatment, through the Solid Waste Environmental Program and the Border Environmental Infrastructure Program (BEIF), respectively, we request the boards of directors of both entities allocate permanent and increasing budgets for these programs and, if possible, for the BEIF program for wastewater treatment to be applied as a grant for the entire 300 kilometers in Mexico, as the BECC mandate stipulates.


Request that the 10 border states be included in the implementation of the recently signed “Declaration Among the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of the United States of America, the Department of Health of Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Ministry of Health of the United Mexican States.”

The health departments commit to developing cross-border protocols for coordination and communication during epidemiological events of mutual interest under the provisions of the Guidelines for United States-Mexico Coordination on Epidemiologic Events of Mutual Interest and be prepared to present them at the 2009 United States-Mexico Border Governors Conference.

That the United States Department of Health and Human Services approve and implement the Guidelines for United States-Mexico Coordination on Epidemiologic Events of Mutual Interest and that they serve as the foundation for advancing bi-national coordination under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America public health initiatives.

That the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission, in coordination with the Pan American Health Organization United States-Mexico Border Field Office, develop a report that addresses the bi-national problem related to the increase in the number of tuberculosis (TB) cases along the border, including drug resistant TB, and identifies means to increase financial resources for TB control activities in the United States-Mexico border region, specifically in Mexico to improve laboratory and surveillance capacity and to the northern border states to offset the cost of providing TB care to non-residents of the border states, and specifically in to the United States to provide increased funding for the border state and county health departments to offset the cost of providing TB care to non-United States citizens and management of bi-national TB cases in coordination with Mexican State health authorities.

Support and strengthen the initiative for the creation of the Unit for Epidemiological Intelligence and Public Health Emergencies as a center that monitors risks and damages to public health for an early-stage bi-national alert, which would initially operate in the Mexican border states and, subsequently, based on agreements and the definition of protocols, would include epidemiological monitoring activities in the 10 United States-Mexico border states, and support and strengthen the development and implementation of the initiative to use Tele-Health technology as a tool that has great potential for standardizing capacity in health services and available human resources, as well as those in training, in the United States-Mexico border states.

Request that the federal governments of both countries provide funding to launch a culturally and linguistically appropriate year-long binational multimedia education and awareness campaign during the Border Bi-National Health Week (BBHW) aimed especially at children and youth.

Request that the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission report on efforts made to address the issues at the 2010 Border Governors Conference.

Even when Perry does right for the wrong reasons — say, when he gets shot down by the EPA trying to help his factory-chicken farmer friends trying reduce feed costs — it still ends up badly.

The EPA’s ruling has resulted in the constriction of ethanol’s political and monied networks. Welcome the coming maize syncronicity?

From Purchasing.com:

Following the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last week to deny a request by the governor of Texas to reduce for one year the mandate on ethanol production, the ethanol industry rallied at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference in Omaha, Neb. this week. The Associated Press reports that among the plans announced at the meeting are a new social networking Web site so ethanol producers can share information and promoting a package of proposed laws that ethanol producers can try to get enacted in their home states.

The increased interest has also brought plans for new plants again. This week, Poet, a Sioux Falls, S.D., ethanol distiller, got approval to build its largest plant yet in West Lebanon, Ind. with capacity for 115 million gallons a year. Poet also said that construction will be completed on a $4 million pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol production facility and the plant will be being production this year adjacent to its ethanol production facility in Scotland, S.D.

But already, the uptick in ethanol interest has some market watchers talking about ethanol’s impact on corn prices, despite the dramatic dive in corn prices in the past six weeks and the Agriculture Department projection that this year’s corn crop has withstood rains and flooding to deliver a harvest of 12.3 billion bushels—573 million more than it expected last month and second in size only to last year’s harvest.

Reuters reports that the USDA raised by 150 million bushels, to 4.1 billion, its expected total of corn to be used to make ethanol this year, which if realized would take 33% of the crop grown which would likely increase prices.

[Perry-Conan merge courtesy of the inestimable Chuck Kerr.]

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