What if a border wall paid for itself (and helped address environmental problems too) – volokh conspiracy reason.com gas natural fenosa


I am profoundly skeptical that a physical barrier is the best approach to border security, but what if, instead of a wall, the nation constructed infrastructure that would generate electricity and help address other environmental concerns? A consortium of engineers have proposed just such an idea: an Energy, Water, Industry and Education Park (FEWIEP) that would enhance border security while providing energy and water to the border region. Among other things, the plan anticipates that such a project, once built, would help pay for itself through the generation of electricity.

Instead of an endless, inert wall along the U.S.–Mexico border, line the boundary with 2,000 miles of natural gas, solar and wind power plants. Use some of the energy to desalinate water from the electricity jeopardy powerpoint Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean and ship it through pipelines to thirsty towns, businesses and new farms along the entire border zone. Hire hundreds of thousands of people from both countries to build and run it all. Companies would make money and provide security to safeguard their assets. A contentious, costly no-man’s-land would be transformed into a corridor of opportunity. . . .

The border region receives boundless solar energy, and has significant natural gas and wind resources. It’s also suffering from extreme drought, and water shortages are predicted to get worse. Farming is exceedingly difficult gas prices map. And jobs are often scarce—in part because of lack of water and power. If an energy and water corridor were built, the facility owners would protect their properties. Transmission, gas and water lines would be monitored by companies, states and federal agencies, as many elsewhere are now. And the plants could be integrated with security walls or fences.

I’m skeptical of parts of the plan, particularly the emphasis on water desalination. The problems of water scarcity in the western US are more a policy problem than a problem of physical supply. The expansion of water markets and real water pricing would do much to rationalize water use (and also help address the consequences of climate change).

That said, much of the US-Mexico border would be an ideal place to expand solar power, and such installations would provide something of a physical barrier (insofar as some folks think such a barrier is desirable ag gaston birmingham 120). Solar power doesn’t work well everywhere, but there are parts of the country to which it’s quite well suited. And if we’re going to have something of a wall — and Mexico is not going to pay for it — wouldn’t it be a consolation if the wall could pay for itself?

We’ll start with this. Wind turbines and solar plants don’t make good walls. They’re specifically designed to have either large areas in between them at the base (so the blades don’t hit each other), or nice access availability. In many ways, it actually hurts border security. Previously, you would’ve had a nice, open plain. Lots of space, but easily visible from a distance. Now, you have lots of areas to infiltrate through, with none of the easy visibility. It makes it harder to enforce the border, not easier. You might be able to put walls in between the wind turbines, but then, it makes it harder to service them (and you’re where you started, with more walls).

Now, no one has said a wall alone is the best way for border security. But it is a critical piece, in conjunction with border patrols and gas equations chemistry remote surveillance. There’s a reason they’ve been used through history. They act as an impediment to travel in an area. It’s significantly harder to get through a wall, than it is for the equivalent flat land. It’s not insurmountable, but it acts as a force multiplier for the border patrol. It’s also harder to eliminate once it goes up.

I find it interesting/perplexing, to so often see people (who, as far as I can tell, never lived near the southern border) be so confident that a wall is unnecessary. I lived within a few miles of the US-Mexico border (south San Diego) for decades. The wall there (such that it is) has been absolutely essential to at least slowing (significantly) the number of illegal entrants in that area. In San Diego, El Paso, etc., you would (and in decades past, pre-barrier, did), have large amounts of people simply cross over en masse. Yes, those freeway signs warning about families running acrosss the freeways were real things back then.

All that being said, if I had to choose chapter 7 electricity and magnetism I’d choose mandatory e-verify and harsh/enforced penalties against employers and identity thieves, over a foot of new barriers, 7 days a week. That will do more to address the problem than anything else. As a Republican, I place the blame squarely at the GOP and the Chamber of Commerce supporters in Congress for the failure to secure that into law.

The desalination piece suggests the article was not seriously researched. For most of its course along the border, the Rio Grande flows at high elevations, above 1000 feet, and in the upper border stretches above 3000 feet. Even at relatively low-lying Laredo TX, the elevation is above 400 feet. Taking that last number as a benchmark worth considering, where in the world is there any instance of desalinated irrigation water being lifted 400 feet to be put to use? In Saudi Arabia, maybe?

Pretty sure it doesn’t happen in the U.S. In the arid west almost every drop of potential irrigation water is long since spoken for, but there are exceptions. In Idaho, near Twin Falls, a major irrigated agricultural center, thousands electricity storage cost per kwh of cubic-feet-per-second of unspoken-for, high quality water pass by unused. Why? Because that water, in the Snake River Canyon, is 480 feet below the sage-brush-covered potential farmland on which it could be put to use. So far, it hasn’t proved economical to lift it so high for the purpose of irrigation, even without the additional cost of desalination.