Mexico and United States propose common energy policy

Feb 19, 2001 01:00 AM

One country suffers blackouts and soaring energy costs. The other could face the same soon. As neighbours, it would seem Mexico and the United States have no choice but to work together to create a regional energy plan, helping each other provide enough power to fuel their growing economies.
But the proposal for a common energy policy for the region stretching from Panama to Canada -- put forth by US President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox during their meeting -- could face strong opposition in Mexico.
The country's state-owned electricity commission has been a sacred symbol of Mexico's sovereignty, and past proposals to privatise or even allow more private investment were widely called attempts to sell out Mexico. A spokesman for the largest party in Mexico's Congress, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, expressed concern that Fox's commitments on energy might jeopardize Mexican sovereignty and said the party wanted to summon Foreign Secretary Jorge Castaneda to explain before lawmakers.
Former President Ernesto Zedillo also tried, but failed, to privatise more of the energy market to overcome a growing need for power and to modernize a sluggish bureaucracy. Those funds and resources are still lacking in Mexico. The United States faces its own crisis. Blackouts left parts of California in the dark, and residents across the country have struggled to pay soaring energy bills.

Bush has asked Mexico to help by allowing private US capital to build electricity plants and transmission lines south of the border that would send power north. "We can conserve better; there's no question about it," Bush said. "But demand is far outstripping supply, which is creating a real problem for the working people of our respective countries. And so this subject, rightly so, took quite a bit of time in our meeting, and it's going to take more time down the road."
Fox has said Mexico can't meet its own energy needs, and won't be able to help the United States much in the near future. But, after rejecting privatisation of the state-run energy commission, he supported Bush's plan for a regional energy policy, calling it a "win-win situation for everyone." Yet he cautioned that the policy would have to benefit all those involved -- not just use developing countries as sites to produce cheap electricity and lots of pollution. "What is important is to have a common policy whereby no one takes advantage of the other," he said.
Still, Mexico needs the United States almost as much as its northern neighbour needs it. Energy plants on the Baja California peninsula south of San Diego can't keep up with demand, forcing officials to import power from an already tight US market.

From Mexico City to small rural villages, many people simply pirate power from local lines. Those who hook up to the system legally face long lines to pay bills and a record-keeping system that's done largely on manual typewriters.
The two presidents discussed the possibility of joint ventures to look for more energy resources within their borders. But, Bush said, the challenge will be transportation. "Now there are some bottlenecks, and one of the things we need to do is address those bottlenecks, one of which is the ability to transmit power from south to north," he said.
Some western Canadian power generators have capitalized on the soaring prices created by the California surge in demand. But the rest of the vast country is prevented by distance and economics from getting involved.
Fox seems set on making state-run energy companies more efficient. He appointed several of Latin America's most successful businessmen to Pemex' board of directors, asking them to make the state-run oil company more competitive.

Pemex has long been considered one of the hemisphere's most wasteful, bloated companies. But its 1938 nationalization is still celebrated as a turning point in the country's history: Mexico asserting itself after years of exploitation by foreign companies.
Both Fox and Bush seem to recognize change won't come unless they respect that view. "We have a great opportunity to come together and to have a strategy that honours Mexico and honours its sovereignty and at the same time recognizes that people are what matters most," Bush said. "And we've got to make sure our people have got the energy necessary to be able to find jobs and find work."

Source: AP
Alexander's Commentary

Change of face - change of phase

In the period of July 20 till August 3, 2015, Alexander will be out of the office and the site will not or only irreg

read more ...
« January 2020 »
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

Register to announce Your Event

View All Events