Border bank funds environmental projects

Frontera NorteSur

The Board of Directors of the North American Development Bank (NADB) has approved more than $136 million in new financing for  environmentally-related initiatives on both sides of the US-Mexico borderline. In an announcement this month, the San Antonio-based bank listed four new projects that will receive NADB loans and grants.

More than half of the new money,  or a $88.5 million loan, is set aside for a 20-megawatt solar energy park that will generate electricity for approximately 3,500 homes in the Tucson metropolitan area. The loan recipient will be the privately-owned SunEdison utility company.

Bank directors approved an $11 million loan for the city of Mexicali, Baja California, which plans to use the funding to pave roads and upgrade water and wastewater lines. The officials likewise gave the OK to a  third loan of  $36.6 million for infrastructure development of the Valle de las Palmas housing project near Tijuana, Baja California. Also in Mexico,  a US Environmental Protection Agency grant of $549,488 will be channeled through the NADB to provide 600 residential potable water hookups and related necessities in the municipality of Praxedis Guerrero, Chihuahua, a violence-torn area in the Juárez Valley across from Texas.

According to the NADB, the new projects will contribute to the improvement of the border environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and downsizing carbon footprints; by bettering air and water quality; and in the case of the Valle de las Palmas housing development, by reigning  in unregulated urban sprawl while “providing affordable housing to low-income families.”

In other news the NADB and its board, the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC), unveiled the Community Assistance Program this month. The new fund is aimed at helping communities with little access to credit fund small environmental infrastructure projects. Eligible beneficiaries will be able to receive a $500,000 grant but must contribute 10 percent of the overall project cost. Priority will be given to drinking water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure projects, according to the financial institutions. The upcoming application deadline for the grant is February 15, 2012.

Growing out of the negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement and based in San Antonio, Texas, the NADB is a mechanism to fund vital infrastructure and environmental  projects in the underdeveloped US-Mexico border region. In the 16 years of its existence, the bank has funneled about $1.33 billion in both loans and grants to 152 projects in the United States and Mexico.

Financing decisions are approved by the BECC, which consists of representatives from the US and Mexican governments as well as from a border state and civil society. The participating agencies from the US include the Department of the Treasury, the Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency. From Mexico, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Relations and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources have representatives on the BECC.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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