A group of engineers and scientists have announced a proposal to build an “energy corridor” along the U.S.-Mexico border. The plan would bring energy, water, and jobs to the region, in addition to built-in border security.

Purdue University led the consortium of 28 U.S. scientists and engineers that proposed the plan. The plan is presented on Purdue’s website as “a first-of-its-kind energy park that spans the 1,954 miles of the border,” and is titled “What if a border wall could pay for itself?

Unlike President Donald Trump’s desired border wall, the proposed energy corridor would be a joint effort between U.S. and Mexico. A visual look at the plan (see below) shows a mix of solar power, wind turbines, and desalination facilities, along with surveillance drones and “energy/security institutes” for research and training.

energy border proposal

Purdue University /Jorge Castillo Quiñones

The proposal would basically come with border security in tow, according to researchers, “because utility facilities and infrastructure must be well-protected.” Consortium lead and engineering professor Luciano Castillo said such a plan would “have a historic positive effect for both nations.” Castillo said,

“Just like the transcontinental railroad transformed the United States in the 19th century, or the Interstate system transformed the 20th century, this would be a national infrastructure project for the 21st century.”

More Details

A number of other proposal co-authors left their own comments about the plan. Professor Leonardo Chamorro of the University of Illinois said,

“The infrastructure may trigger unprecedented economic development at various levels with potentially global impact. This radically new, well-posed concept for addressing border security also offers direct benefits in education and the environment. It is a one-of-a-kind solution.”

In addition to the green energy benefits, border security, and job creation, the researchers make a special note of how the proposal would increase water resources in the dry region. A large increase in wind and solar production would allow “billions of gallons of water” used for cooling fossil fuel and nuclear plants in the U.S. to be freed up for use elsewhere. Also, the “wind-powered desalination plants at each coast” would create an influx of fresh water throughout the region.

The full proposal is available online. It includes a request for $1.1 billion to establish what the co-authors are calling the “Future Energy, Water, Industry and Education Park (FEWIEP): A Secure and Permanent US- Mexico Border Solution.”

Not Entirely New

The energy corridor proposal may seem a bit crazy at first glance. But it’s really a more ambitious, friendlier version of something that’s already been discussed…by Donald Trump, among others. In fact, the researchers even mention that “President Trump himself” has floated a similar idea “as one of many possibilities.” Trump talked publicly about building a solar border wall in 2017 (though he certainly wouldn’t be considered a solar-friendly president).

Of course, this sort of proposal would cost much more than a simple wall, but it would also offer far more benefits. It may even be able to please some people on both sides of the political aisle.

But it would also require complete cooperation with Mexico — to treat the country as an ally and a partner, not as a foe.

Whether the proposal spurs any serious discussion remains to be seen. But what do you think of such a plan?

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