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Voice: Power plants in Mexicali will be cheap-energy maquilladoras

December 09, 2001

Why does Henry Morse of North Baja Pipeline want to build a natural gas pipeline across Imperial County — and not across Baja from the port in Ensenada? After all, the fossil fuel is to be burned in Mexico to produce electricity for sale to the United States.

It doesn't take a great leap of imagination to recognize the issue for Mr. Morse is cost eroding his engineering budget — not his pompous claim that "everyone will be able to breathe easier," once his baby is delivered. Mexico's multi-giga cubic foot reserves of natural gas are under the Gulf of Mexico in the south, and capital is not available to get it here cheap, fast and good.

County Supervisor Joe Maruca is correct by having called the pipeline project "slickered through the federal process." The power plants in Mexico nearing completion are purely maquilladoras for production of cheaper electricity for the American consumer. They will not be accountable to the same pollution standards as U.S. plants, will not pay property or payroll taxes — and they will most definitely not pay lucrative or livable wages relative to U.S. workers in analogous job descriptions.

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If Morse is that concerned about respiratory health for Valley residents, why is he not calling for U.S. energy companies to construct power plants here and use his company for cleaner, cheaper and closer power? His patronizing and lame statement that Mexico's electricity producers will have to burn fuel oil without natural gas — read: Morse's gas — ignores the fact that they are already doing so and can convert to natural gas if it is cost-effective.

So, Uncle Sam wants Mexico to produce cheaper goods, including electricity; tariffs on American natural gas imported into Mexico were eliminated by NAFTA.

Henry Morse did not speak in code — and with apologies to Lynyrd Skynyrd fans, "along come Mr. Yankee Slicker, saying maybe you're what I want. Want you to sign your contract. Want you to sign today. Gonna give you lots of money. Working for" NBP!

DAVID BONIFACE

El Centro

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