More than half of all the electricity in the industrialized world is produced and used in North America. The economic convergence of Canada, Mexico, and the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is combining with recently liberalized regulatory trends in all three countries to open up and encourage regional trade across national borders in this form of energy. There are great incentives for this trade to increase in decades to come; yet a fundamental question concerns the manner in which these exchanges (probably integral to economic well being and desirable living standards) have also affected and will affect the natural air-water-and-land environment of the three countries, as well as public health.
The President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Canada, and the President of Mexico underscored these ideas in their joint statement after their first meeting in April. It lauded fresh trilateral efforts to support “efficient energy markets that help our governments meet the energy needs of our peoples.” The leaders went on to stress “the importance of energy conservation, development of alternative energy sources, and our common commitment to addressing environmental impacts of energy use.” But the problem lies in how best to accomplish all this simultaneously in respect to the continent’s fastest-growing form of end-use energy-electricity.