Texas to Pump Gas to Mexico

A proposed pipeline project to supply Mexico with natural gas from Texas would pass through Brownsville, though the exact route appears yet to be determined.

The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), Mexico’s state-owned electric utility, recently issued a request for proposals for construction of a $1.5 billion, 155-mile pipeline from NuecesCounty to Brownsville, where it would connect with a $3.1 billion, 500-mile underwater pipeline to the Port of Tuxpan in the state of Veracruz, Mexico.

The South Texas-Tuxpan pipeline would cross the border into Matamoros before turning toward the Gulf of Mexico.

The pipelines are among $9.8 billion in gas transport and power plant projects that are part of sweeping energy reform in Mexico that has opened Mexico’s oil, gas and utility sectors to foreign investment for the first time in decades.

The 42-inch Nueces-Brownsville and South Texas-Tuxpan gas pipelines would have the capacity to feed 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily to CFE power plants in the eastern, central and western regions of Mexico, including the states of Tamaulipas and Veracruz.

CFE plans to build new gas-fired power plants as well as convert existing fuel-oil-fired plants to gas. The gas transportation and power plant projects, two dozen in all, will add 1,442 megawatts to Mexico’s generating capacity. The gas would come from the Eagle Ford Shale.

Pending approval from regulatory and governmental authorities, CFE expects the construction contracts…

Read more at The McAllen Monitor.

Mexico Announces Underwater Gas Pipeline to Texas

The Mexican government has announced plans for nearly $10 billion worth of electricity and natural gas infrastructure projects, including a gas pipeline under the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to the port of Veracruz.

The Federal Electricity Commission said Monday that the costliest project would be the 500-mile underwater pipeline for carrying natural gas from South Texas. The pipeline is intended to go into operation in June 2018.

Officials hope that facilitating the importation of cheap natural gas will help lower Mexico’s electricity rates.

Other projects include power plants, electricity distribution, transmission lines and electrical substations.

Mexico passed a broad overhaul of its…

Read more at Valleycentral.com.

The First New Rail Bridge to Mexico in More Than a Century

Mexico and the United States haven’t built a new crossing point for freight trains between the countries for more than a century. That’s about to change in the next few weeks, largely because of the efforts of local governments in South Texas.

They have pushed to build a new railroad bridge spanning the Rio Grande outside Brownsville, Texas, which is now largely completed. When it opens, it will mark the end of a 15-year effort by local officials to move freight trains crossing into Matamoros, Mexico, out of downtown Brownsville, the southernmost city in Texas. Many localities have dealt with similar problems, but the international border crossing added a new dimension of complexity to the effort.

Photo Courtesy of Governing.com. Story written by Daniel Vock.

Photo Courtesy of Governing.com. Story written by Daniel Vock.

Local officials — including at least three Brownsville mayors and three county “judges,” or executives, on the American side, plus more in Mexico — stuck with the project because of the benefits they hope it will bring.

Diverting freight trains west of the city will eliminate 14 railroad street crossings. The current route takes freight trains through residential areas, along neighborhood parks and through commercial areas, said County Judge Pete Sepulveda, Jr.

“The problem is that a lot of times, before the train is allowed to go into Mexico, they have to stage it. That blocks off several areas of downtown Brownsville,” while also making it harder for fire engines and police cars to respond to emergencies, he said.

Most of the work on the new crossing is done, but the Mexican government is in the process of setting up its security checkpoint, which will screen traffic in both directions until the U.S. can move its equipment once the existing rail crossing is closed.

Sepulveda, who was just promoted to the county’s executive post last month, first started working on the crossing after a neighborhood hearing 15 years ago, when it was clear that the…

Read more on the Governing website.

International Bridge Set To Open

Lights were being tested Saturday night, cameras were being installed, grounds were being cleared of debris and the floors were to be waxed, all leading to Tuesday’s ex-pected completion of the first international rail bridge to be constructed between the United States and Mexico in 106 years, Cameron County Judge Pete Sepulveda Jr. said.

Although a series of complex twists and turns stalled and delayed the construction of the West Rail International Bridge between Brownsville and Matamoros, the project never derailed.

“This is a reflection of the commitment of the leadership and focus on the project that remained intact for 15 years,” Sepulveda said of the project that began in 2000. “It’s a great accomplishment,” he added of the project that moved rail crossings from the center and residential areas in the sister cities to the west, eliminating travel time delays for first responder personnel and residents during an emergency, while also eliminating congestion and improving rail movement.

The rail bridge is about 15 river miles upstream from the existing B&M International Bridge. It is located off U.S. Highway 281 near the River Bend Resort area. It is about two miles from Alton Gloor Boulevard.

Pending the relocation of equipment in Mexico by a vendor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Sepulveda anticipates that…

Read more at the Valley Morning Star.

 

Fossil Fuel Boom Does Not Stop Mexico from Wind Energy Development

Mexico expects some $14 billion of investment in wind farms between 2015 and 2018, which will more than triple installed capacity in the country, the energy ministry said on Monday.

The planned investment aims to raise Mexico’s wind energy capacity from some 2,551 Megawatts (MW) to 9,500 MW, Energy Minister Pedro Joaquin Coldwell told local radio.

Mexico’s state-run electricity company CFE is due to oversee a sizeable chunk of the investment, aiming to develop eight wind parks generating 2,300 MW at a cost of some 52 billion pesos ($3.55 billion), the ministry said.

 

[tdbutton style=”normal” font_size=”15″ radius=”15″ text_color=”#000000″ text_hover_color=”#1e73be” bg_color=”#43a6d8″ bg_hover_color=”#ffffff” target=”_blank” url=”http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/13/mexico-energy-idUSL1N0US06X20150113″]Read More at Reuters[/tdbutton]

Incoming Texas Sec. of State Wants Improved Relations with Mexico

Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos sees improving relations with Mexico as one of his top priorities when he becomes Texas’ next secretary of state.

Cascos is expected to secure Senate nomination for the secretary of state’s position later this month. His proposed appointment came days after Governor-elect Greg Abbott won the November general election.

“I think the main thing I would want to be doing is nurturing and re-establishing stronger relationships with Mexico. It is going to take a little bit of work and it is going to take a little bit of initiative from a lot of state agencies and I just hope I can play a part in it,” Cascos said.

The secretary of state’s role includes ensuring elections in Texas run smoothly and overseeing Texas-Mexico border affairs and improvements to colonias. Cascos gave an in-depth interview to RGV Public Radio 88 FM and the Rio Grande Guardian ahead of the 84th legislative session that starts on Tuesday. He discussed his top two legislative agenda items for Cameron County and what he hopes to achieve as secretary of state.

“The one thing I can do, not just for the Valley, even though I am from Cameron, I am not going to say be a voice per se but I think that is going to happen. I think the biggest challenge as secretary of state coming from the border is really to inform and educate those legislators that are not from our border region or coastal region that have not had the opportunity to visit our region in years and maybe even some new legislators,” Cascos said.

“We need to have not only bipartisan support but we need to have bi-state support, which means having legislators from throughout the state recognize the importance of border trade, recognize the importance of border relationships, recognize the importance of border security. I think in that way, being from the border, being familiar with the border being bilingual, hopefully I can be a voice for the border and for South Texas.”

Cascos said he does not think Texas has had a secretary of state “in quite some time” who has cared to “basically sit down across a table and speak to legislators of both parties.” He hopes to change that. He also pointed out that the post is non-partisan.

 

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Billions for NAD Bank to Help Border Region

The Border Trade Alliance has welcomed the decision of Presidents Obama and Peña Nieto to double the North American Development Bank’s general capital to $6 billion.

Obama and Peña Nieto agreed to support the capital increase at a January 6 White House meeting. The capital increase agreement must still gain congressional approval in both the U.S. and Mexico.

The increase in funds, to be apportioned by both the U.S. and Mexican governments over an estimated period of five years, includes $450 million in paid-in capital and the rest in callable capital.

“The Border Trade Alliance is very encouraged that President Obama and President Peña Nieto have agreed to expand the operating capital of the North American Development Bank,” said BTA President Noe Garcia, III.

“The BTA has been a longtime supporter of the bank and its critical mission of improving the environmental infrastructure of the border region, including, in some cases, port of entry improvements.

“With the NADB poised to expand its efforts in projects that not only have a positive impact for the environment but for cross-border commerce, as well, we look forward to supporting the institution in whatever legislative policy endeavors might be required to ensure the NADB continues to be impactful in the U.S.-Mexico border region.”

The BTA has served as a grassroots, non-profit organization that provides a forum for discussion and advocacy on issues pertaining to the environment, border development, quality of life and trade in the Americas since 1986.

NADB was created in 1994 as part of negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It works to develop and finance environmental infrastructure in the U.S.-Mexico border region, including water, transportation, solid waste and clean and renewable energy. Established with an initial capitalization of $3 billion, the two presidents have agreed to support a doubling of the bank’s capital to $6 billion.

NADB Managing Director Gerónimo Gutiérrez said his bank strives to finance environmental projects along the U.S.-Mexico border at the lowest possible interest rates. By pumping the extra capital into the bank, NADB’s debt-to-equity ratio will remain healthy, which in turn will mean its credit rating remains good, thus allowing the bank to offer the lowest interest rates.

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President of Mexico on Importance of U.S. Relationship

The United States and Mexico have enjoyed a unique and flourishing relationship over the past decades. I am delighted to start 2015 by visiting Washington, D.C., and embarking on new ways in which Mexico and the United States can strengthen our ties in order to make North America the most prosperous and competitive region in the world.

Our countries have an intense economic relationship that is spread over a myriad of areas. Since the beginning of my administration, I have worked with President Barack Obama to create bilateral mechanisms that harness the full potential of our relationship. We are already seeing concrete results from the High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), the Mexico-U.S. Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research (FOBESII), the Mexico-U.S. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC) and the 21st Century Border Action Plan of 2014.

We are steadfast in our belief that the continuous promotion of bilateral trade is a win-win situation for both our countries. Mexico is the third largest trading partner of the U.S., just behind China and Canada. Total bilateral trade between us amounted to more than $500 billion during 2013. Our exports to the U.S. have increased significantly since NAFTA entered into force, with roughly 80 percent of them coming to this country. Meanwhile, U.S. exports to Mexico in 2013 were $226 billion, up 443 percent since 1993. In fact, Mexico buys more U.S. goods than all of the BRICS combined—and nearly as much as the entire European Union. Moreover, 5.9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico. Even Mexican exports benefit the American economy: 40 percent of the value of Mexican exports to the U.S. contains American inputs. By 2020, Mexico will have the capacity to build one in every four vehicles in North America, up from one in six in 2012. Additionally, Mexico has begun to invest in high technology exports; we have become the leading exporter of flat screen televisions in the world, the fourth largest computer exporter and a growing pioneer in the aerospace industry. We are interlinked.

To ensure the prosperity of our border we have worked together to improve security and facilitate trade. Every minute, nearly a million dollars worth of products cross our land border. Additionally, our countries have begun several infrastructure projects to make the border region a catalyst for growth and innovation. These projects include the San Diego-Tijuana airport pedestrian bridge, the railway crossing at Matamoros-Brownsville, and six new inspection booths at the Nogales port of entry. We have also reduced average waiting times at the San Ysidro-Chaparral crossing on the California-Baja California border from 3.5 hours to half-an-hour.

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Former Ambassador Examines Mexico’s Challenges for 2015

Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza believes violence in Mexico threatens to undermine the sweeping reforms enacted by President Peña Nieto with investors lacking confidence that their contracts or investments will be respected.

Even more importantly an inability to fully impose the rule of law threatens Mexicans’ security, the former Cameron County Judge, Texas Secretary of State and Texas Railroad Commissioner argues, in a commentary written to usher in 2015.

Garza now serves as Counsel in the Mexico City office of White & Case LLP, a global law firm with 39 offices in 26 countries. White & Case was named one of the top five most innovative law firms in North America by the Financial Times in its FT North America Innovative Lawyers 2014 report. Additionally, Garza is chair of Austin-based Vianovo Ventures, a management consultancy with a focus on cross-border business development.

In his look ahead to 2015, Garza argues that while Peña Nieto’s ambitious reform agenda was “comprehensive in many ways,” it has yet to address some of Mexico’s most pressing challenges.

“This year’s reform agenda certainly covered a lot of ground, but it is now clear that it didn’t address some of Mexico’s most glaring weak spots. Most prominently, it did not include any serious push to address the country’s perennial challenge: rule of law. This oversight could threaten many of the reform’s gains—as investors lack confidence that their contracts or investments will be respected—but even more importantly, it threatens Mexicans’ security,” Garza wrote in his commentary.

Garza then focused on Mexico’s big national tragedy of 2014.

“On September 26, the horrific disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero shocked the nation to its core, pushing tens of thousands to the streets across the country to demand a safer and more just future,” Garza wrote.

“The outrage only grew in November as news outlets began reporting that the first lady owned a $7 million house, registered to a company whose owner had just won a high-speed train concession from Mexico City to Querétaro. The train contract was canceled and the first lady quickly announced that she would sell the house, but just the hint of corruption was enough for Mexico’s public—beating down Peña Nieto’s approval ratings to slightly under 40 percent.”

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Senator Proposes New Approach to Texas Border Security

Decrying the Texas Department of Public Safety’s continuing lack of data regarding whether the border is secure, Texas Sen. José Rodríguez is calling on the agency, lawmakers and other state officials to adopt a new approach to the issue.

Rodríguez, an El Paso Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Hispanic Caucus, is putting forward a set of principles aimed at reframing the discussion about border security.

Among the measures he is advocating: policy makers should stop conflating illegal immigration with cartel activity and law enforcement should apply the same techniques against the cartels as have worked against the mafia.

“They need to go after the money,” said Rodriguez, who added that the effort should focus on big cities in the Texas interior where cartels are active — instead of just on the border with Mexico.

Gov. Rick Perry and many other Texas Republicans have claimed that the border with Mexico is woefully unsecure and last summer implemented a program that spent $17.2 million a month to send National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers to the border. The “surge” occurred amid an influx and Central American children and families.

The National Guard deployment will end in late March, but Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus last month agreed to spend $86 million on the deployment and the trooper surge through August.

[tdbutton style=”normal” font_size=”15″ radius=”15″ text_color=”#000000″ text_hover_color=”#1e73be” bg_color=”#24aed8″ bg_hover_color=”#ffffff” target=”_blank” url=”http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_27179163/sen-rodriguez-proposes-principals-good-data-about-border”]Read More at El Paso Times[/tdbutton]