Saturday, November 19, 2005

Two things largely unknown


U.S., Mexican, and Canadian officials and business leaders used the Hemispheria San Pedro 2005 summit to discuss the accomplishments and problems of NAFTA, which expanded trade throughout the continent, since 1994.

José Natividad González Parás and Bill Richardson, governors of Nuevo León and New Mexico, exhorted their nations to pursue the responsible use of energy, and to promote renewable energy sources. Richardson proposed the creation of the North America Energy Council to track and analyze critical information relating to energy, the environment and trade help resolve regional issues and disputes, and serve as a forum to exchange information and ideas. The council is intended to establish the region as a world energy production and resources, and it would include not only the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, but also energy-rich countries across the Americas, i.e., Venezuela and Brazil.

The Energy and Basic Petrochemicals Chapter of the NAFTA agreement encourages sustained and gradual liberalization of trade in energy in the free trade area. Article 602 declares, “Energy and petrochemical goods and activities shall be governed by the provisions of this Agreement.”

According to the Preliminary Report by the Trade and Economic Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada has been the U.S.’s most important source of energy imports. Undoubtedly, Canada has been the dominant source of Electricity and Natural Gas imports, accounting for 100 percent of U.S. electricity imports and 93.5 percent of natural gas imports. But even for oil, combining crude and non-crude oil, the U.S. imports more from Canada than any other country.


North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition has been lobbying the American government for years to build a huge superhighway down through the centre of the North American continent. The corridor consists of I-35, I-29, I-80, I-94 and Manitoba’s Provincial Trunk Highway 75. The planned corridor would be nearly a quarter-mile wide, include road and rail traffic, and oil, gas, electric, and water lines. Networks of toll roads would function primarily to connect U.S. roads to networks in Mexico, Central and South America, and Canada.

When, from San Pedro, Hemispheria 2005 declared that they will “develop regional infrastructure,” they were referring to the development of the channel for raw material, from land in Canada, to the central economy in the United States.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (DOT) led a stakeholder group (including Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Manitoba) in a study of the feasibility of shared, interoperable Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSs) and Commercial Vehicle Operations (CVOs) along the corridor. Their intended applications include “advanced traveler information services,” “automated credentialing processes,” and “safety assurance activities.” This NASCO-facilitated project developed the technical approach and business plan to implement these technologies, in part to enhance freight movements along the corridor and across international borders, and in part to manipulate migration.

The Iowa DOT has received similar federal funding to examine and field-test the “intelligent infrastructure” (hardware and software) needed to realize the ITS/CVO applications.

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