Friday, August 21, 2009

Environmental Concerns Advancing North American Integration

By Dana Gabriel

The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) has essentially been rendered inactive, yet many of its key priorities such as energy integration were part of the agenda at the recent North American Leaders’ Summit held in Guadalajara, Mexico on Aug 9-10. Environmental concerns are also being used to further advance North American integration as the U.S., Canada and Mexico have committed to a more continental approach in combating climate change.

In the North American Leaders’ Declaration on Climate Change and Clean Energy it states, “We stress that the experience developed during the last 15 years in the North American region on environmental cooperation, sustainable development, and clean energy research, development, and deployment constitutes a valuable platform for climate change action, and we resolve to make use of the opportunities offered by existing bilateral and trilateral institutions.” The leaders offered a shared vision for a low-carbon North America and the importance of taking aggressive action on climate change, including better cooperation in reducing emissions. In conclusion, it says, “In order to facilitate these actions, we will work cooperatively to develop and follow up on a Trilateral Working Plan and submit a report of results at our next North American Leaders Summit in 2010.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Towards a North American Energy Corridor

By Dana Gabriel

As a result of NAFTA, North America is already a well-integrated energy market with Canada and Mexico among the U.S.’s top energy trading partners. Through the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), the North American Energy Working Group has further integrated a continental energy strategy. Other initiatives are also pushing towards a single North American energy policy.

The Western Governors’ Association annual conference was held in Park City, Utah on June 14-16, 2009. The meetings were attended by three Canadian western premiers. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall spearheaded plans to develop a cross-border Western Energy Corridor. Both have announced that they intend to establish a Western Energy Corridor Coalition to further promote the initiative. The proposed energy corridor would be the largest of its kind in the world. Schweitzer is also vice-chairman of the Western Governors’ Association and emphasized the importance the oilsands play in regards to U.S. energy security with its further development being crucial to American energy independence. He said, “The most important energy corridor on the planet is no longer the Persian Gulf. It runs from the oilsands, Fort McMurray to Port Arthur, Texas.” Absent from any discussions is the potential cost factor taxpayers would have to endure.