Environmental Commission Researches North America Power

The North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation is finalizing a report on trends in electricity trade, competition and cross-border investment between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

MONTREAL, Quebec, CA, 2001-12-21 [SolarAccess.com] The CEC released a working paper, ‘Environmental Challenges & Opportunities in the Evolving North American Electricity Market,’ to stimulate discussion about the need to coordinate environmental policies tri-nationally as a North America-wide electricity market develops. One key issue in the paper is the effect of market integration on the competitiveness of renewable energy and fuels such as coal and natural gas. Fuel choice largely determines environmental impacts from a specific facility, along with pollution control technologies, performance standards and regulations. A recent symposium in San Diego was attended by experts from industry, academia, NGOs and the three governments to consider the impact of the evolving continental electricity market on human health and the environment. “Our goal is to highlight key environmental issues that must be addressed as the electricity markets in North America become more and more integrated,” says Janine Ferretti, executive director of the CEC. “We want to stimulate discussion around the important policy questions being raised so that countries can co-operate in their approach to energy and the environment.” The CEC was created under the North American Free Trade Act to address regional environmental concerns, prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and promote the effective enforcement of environmental law. The secretariat is exploring which environmental policies will work in a restructured market and how policies can be adapted to ensure that they enhance competitiveness and benefit the entire region. Trade rules and policy measures directly influence the variables that make an integrated North American electricity market succeed, and CEC will use feedback to the report to develop a final report for submission early next year. The CEC believes that greater North American cooperation on environmental policies is necessary to protect air quality and mitigate climate change, minimize the possibility of environment-based trade disputes, ensure a dependable supply of reasonably priced electricity across the continent, avoid creation of pollution havens, and ensure local and national environmental measures remain effective. “Over the past few decades, the North American electricity market has developed into a complex array of cross-border transactions and relationships,” says Phil Sharp, a former U.S. congressman and chair of CEC’s Electricity Advisory Board. “We need to achieve this new level of cooperation in our environmental approaches as well.” The electricity sector emits one-quarter of NOx emissions in the U.S., as well as 35 percent of CO2, 25 percent of mercury and 70 percent of SO2 emissions.

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