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United States. Not only are U.S. transnationals moving into Mexico with an eye to dominating the distribution of electricity to Mexicans, much as Anglo-American entrepreneurs did under dictator Porfirio Diaz a century ago, but now these energy giants have carte blanche to set up south of the border and sell energy back to U.S. customers. Despite an acute deficit in electricity distribution throughout rural northern Mexico, U.S. energy corporations are now pumping tens of thousands of kilowatts from that region further north into California to keep San Diego households whirring with the latest modern appliances. U.S. per capita consumption of kilowatts is seven times that on the Mexican side of the border. This August, the California-based Sempra Energy conglomerate’s 600-megawatt generating plant went online out in the scrub desert west of Mexicali Baja California. All of the power generated will flow north to what Mexicans call “the Other Side.” The project is one of 20 that such energy kings as Shell, British Petroleum, Phillips, and El Paso Natural Gas have on the drawing board for this stretch of the northern border. Sempra and Inter-Gens, whose Mexican subsidiary Azteca Energy X is about to inaugurate a pair of huge generating plants a few miles from the Sempra facility, say they came to Mexico because construction costs were low, labor cheap, licensing quick, and environmental regulations lax. “That’s what free trade is all about,” an unidentified InterGens executive recently told The New York Times. According to Greenpeace, in addition to drying up what little water remains under the desert, the Sempra plant alone will generate 180 tons of carbon monoxide emissions annually fur dioxide \(“acceptable” Mexican levels are twice as loose as the plants as energy maquiladoras that are one more example of environmental racism. San Diego Democratic Congressman Rob Filner is even more explicit, labeling the Sempra and Inter-Gens operations “19th-century imperialism.” Both Sempra and Inter-Gens have admitted their culpability in the notorious 1999 California energy swindle, which has cost the state an estimated $60 billion. While other perps like Enron have gone belly up, Sempra and Inter-Gens continue to sell energy to Californiaalthough they had to move to Mexico to do so. During the 1999 scam, energy speculators deliberately held electricity off-line to cause power blackouts, so they could inflate the price of their product. Beachheads in the North American Energy Alliance, the Mexicali facilities will be powered by natural gas delivered from Bolivia and Indonesia to soon-to-be-built liquid natural gas re-gasification terminals along the pristine Baja California coastline between Tijuana and Ensenada. Marathon Oil of Houston already holds permits for the construction of port facilities and LNG terminals in the tourist corridor north of Ensenada. What natural gas is not sold to Sempra and InterGens, will be pipelined up to southern California. The prospect of LNG terminals in their own backyard alarms the locals. \(No such terminals have been opened in the United States since the 9/11 terror attacks because they are so tourist trade,” cracks Tijuana Congressional representative Jaime Martinez Veloz. “Now we will be the center of the terrorist trade.” He speculates that Bush could use the pretext of the proposed North American Energy Alliance to send in the Marines to safeguard the terminals. Natural gas interconnection between the two countries is another vertebra of the NAEA and the accompanying silent and not-so-silent privatization. Despite Fox’s repeated pledges never to privatize PEMEX, whose purview includes natural gas development and production, the national petroleum monopoly now contracts with 300 transnational corporations for services it cannot afford to perform for itself. Now with drilling about to begin in the enormous Burgos dry gas fields in the northeast, PEMEX is promising transnationals “Multi-Service in which the driller takes home a percentage of the find. Among those U.S. transnationals participating in the Burgos project are Fluor Daniel \(which also won a $300 million ubiquitous Halliburton Corporation. In addition, Halliburton, whose KBR division is making out like Ali Baba in “reconstructing” Iraq after an invasion designed by the company’s exCEO, has won a $23 million contract to build a gas separator in Chiapas, not far from rebel Zapatista autonomous zones. \(Zapatista territory in the Lacandon jungle sits on PEMEXOff-shore, Halliburton has become the chief purveyor of technology for the Cantarell complex in the Bay of Campeche, Mexico’s most abundant oil field. Some critics complain that PEMEX’s Exploration and Development division has virtually been taken over by Halliburton. All of this activity is heartwarming news for Dick Cheney and George Walker Bush, the architects of the North American Energy Alliance. Access to Mexican oil is very much what the NAEA is all aboutalthough such access has hardly been denied by Fox. For much of the year before the Iraq invasion, Mexico was Washington’s number one petroleum supplier but curiously, after Bush declared victory in May, the Saudis once again became the top dogs in the oil basket. Although Fox heeded Bush’s injunction to up export production quotas to fuel the U.S. war machine and keep gas prices within reason at the pumps up north, Washington yearns for more direct control over Mexico’s oil industry in order to “ensure [the] U.S. energy security” that is at the core of the Cheney-Bush North American Energy Alliance. But such control may be short-term. According to recent PEMEX studies, Mexico’s proven reserves are expected to give out in the next 11 to 13 years at the current rate of extraction. John Ross is reported to be in Canainand we don’t mean on the beach. 9/12/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17