U.S. Congress blocks key SPP transport initiative

Well, this is an interesting development…

From Canada.com:

Just weeks before the Canadian, U.S. and Mexican leaders meet in Montebello, Que., to discuss the Security and Prosperity Partnership, U.S. legislators moved to block a key part of the trilateral trade initiative.The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last week to cut off funding for talks on all transportation issues related to the SPP, a controversial effort to harmonize the countries’ economic and security protocols.

Legislators are concerned that crucial decisions affecting cross-border security, immigration and product safety are being made without congressional consultation.

“The (Bush) administration refuses to report back to Congress,” Democrat Marcy Kaptur told the House. “They have been intransigent, they have been unresponsive and, frankly, they’ve been secretive.”

But Republican Congressman Joe Knollenberg warned that cutting SPP funding would “put all of the U.S.-Canada transportation initiatives to an end,” including years of improvements to the critical Detroit-Windsor border crossing.

Representatives voted 362-63 in favour of the budget amendment, put forward jointly by Ms. Kaptur and Republican Duncan Hunter. The amendment will now go to the U.S. Senate for debate.

NDP MP Peter Julian warns that similar debates are arising north of the border.

“This is a real wake-up call for (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper,” he said. “The SPP is an unacceptable, closed-door process. … There is a need for a real public consultation.”

Transportation talks have become a hot-button issue in the U.S., where critics fear secret negotiations are aimed at building a “NAFTA Superhighway” linking the three nations.[snip]

In a statement this week, Ms. Kaptur said the 12-lane highway “is already under construction in Texas.” The network would divert incoming Asian goods from bustling California ports to Mexican ports, jeopardizing American jobs, she warned. It would also fast-track overseas products into the U.S. “without adequate safety provisions and inspection,” she charges.

While some private ventures and state governments have described ongoing projects as “NAFTA Corridors,” the federal government is not involved, according to the U.S. government website on the SPP.

“The NAFTA Superhighway simply does not exist,” says Frank Conde of North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition (NASCO), a U.S.-based non-profit group that aims to improve an already existing network of highways that link the three countries.

No Nafta Superhighway?

Many people deny the existence of the ‘Nafta Super Highway’ and stated that no where is it mentioned by name in any bill or earmark. Well, I say read, think and learn.

From the NASCO Website:

September 1, 2006
RE: WHAT IS NASCO?

We know how critical the issue of transportation is to you, and we would like to provide you with some important information you can use as you discuss this subject with your colleagues and voters.

You may have heard of NASCO (North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition), but we have found that many public officials do not understand its role in the world of trade, logistics and transportation. In addition, some confusion has arisen lately about NASCO and the “NAFTA superhighway.” Plus, claims that the U.S. government is funding this so-called NAFTA superhighway have raised some concerns.

It is important to know that NASCO does not build highways, deal with immigration or set transportation policy unilaterally. Nor does NASCO seek to develop a “NAFTA Superhighway” through the middle of North America.

Recent reports from Internet “watch dog groups” have confused the terms “NAFTA Superhighway” with NASCO Corridor. The “NASCO Corridor” is the existing infrastructure of Interstates 35, 29 and 94. No plans are in place for a mid-continent NAFTA Superhighway.

Yes, it is true that since 1999, the federal government has directed more than $234 million in project funding towards the NASCO Corridor for current infrastructure improvements. In addition, the federal government has allocated $2.25 million directly to NASCO “for the development of a technology integration and tracking project,” which is our NAFTRACS project in which we are working to improve the security and efficiency of trade across our borders. We do support the Trans Texas Corridor 35, which is in Texas only, as it solves critical transportation problems for that state. We support the facilitation of any and all projects and ideas that further NASCO’s goal of increasing the efficiency and security of our supply chain.

Let me provide more information about NASCO and what we are we trying to do.

NASCO is a tri-national, non-profit, trade and transportation coalition committed to maximizing the efficient and secure movement of goods along the existing network of transportation systems running North-south through the central United States, Canada and Mexico.

NASCO’s corridor encompasses Interstate Highways 35, 29 and 94, the significant east/west connectors to those highways, as well as rail, inland ports and deep-water ports impacting trade flow in the United States,Canada and Mexico.

NASCO is assisting in the development of technology and strategic research projects that will actually enhance the security, safety and efficiency of transportation, trade processing and logistics systems within the Corridor.

We support our members’ projects or initiatives that are consistent with these objectives.
NASCO’s purpose is to boost economic activity while encouraging needed infrastructure improvements, technological/security innovations and environmental initiatives, which will ultimately create scores of new job opportunities and enhance the overall well being of workers, residents and consumers in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

We would love to set up a meeting to talk with you further about our vision and goals. In the meantime, please feel free to call me at (214) 744-1042 or visit our website, http://www.nascocorridor.com, for additional information.

Cordially,
Tiffany Melvin
Executive Director
North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc.

Their proposed Map

Their FAQ

After reading all of this, you tell me, are we building the Nafta Super Highway, or not?

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email stiknstein-at-gmail-dot-com and let us know at what level you would like to participate.

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