SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Baja California Governor José Guadalupe Osuna Millán today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to continue to build upon their cooperative efforts on important issues in the California-Baja California border region. Specifically in the agreement, they commit both states to work together in the areas of economic development, commerce, tourism, environmental protection, border crossings, security and civil protection, health, renewable energy and agriculture.
“Our common border makes us more than just neighbors, it makes us partners in working together to improve the lives of all border residents,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I am proud of the great relationship California has built with all of the Border States including Baja California. And, with today’s action, we are continuing to build on that relationship to create a more vibrant economy and healthier environment for both of our states.”
The MOU specifically commits California and Baja California to work together in the following areas:
•Economic Development, Commerce and Tourism: Promote open borders with an emphasis on the safe, lawful and quick transport of goods and people.
•Environmental Protection: Work to protect natural resources including improving water and air quality. Specifically, commits California to clean up scrap tires and protect estuary areas in the border region.
•Border Crossings: Improve the safety of both Mexicans and Americans as they cross various points of entry between California and Baja California, by improving efficiencies, infrastructure and wait times at the border.
o It has been over a decade since a border crossing has opened between California and Baja California, Mexico. In December 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the issuance of a federal permit that clears the way to create a new California-Mexico border crossing in Otay Mesa between the two states. Granted by the U.S. Department of State, the federal permit promises to accommodate projected trade growth and improve economic activity between this region and other parts of the world. The project is projected to break ground in 2012 and open to traffic in 2014.
•Security and Civil Protection: California will offer ongoing support and training programs for law enforcement officials in Mexico.
•Health: Monitor and provide mutual support of border health initiatives focused on disease prevention and health promotion, particularly for the H1N1 flu virus.
•Renewable Energy: Work to create new opportunity for investment in green technology that can be used by both states.
•Agriculture: Provide cross-border training programs, technology-transfers and pest exclusion activities.
•California-Mexico Border Relations Council: Encourages Baja California to establish a mirror entity to the California-Mexico Border Relations Council, created in 2006 when Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 3021 to identify dialogue opportunities between California and Mexico, in an effort to foster goodwill and communication. California will share best practices and provide training so that Baja California may create its own Council, in addition to arranging for bi-annual meetings which will bring both councils together.
Additionally, administration officials from both California and Baja California signed three MOUs to foster partnerships and growth in areas of mutual concern:
•Emergency Preparedness & Response: California Emergency Management Agency Acting Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen and Baja California State Department of Civil Protection Director Alfredo Escobedo Ortiz signed an agreement to provide emergency preparedness and response training when possible.
•Agriculture: California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura and Baja California Department of Agriculture and Livestock Development Secretary Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez signed an interagency cooperation agreement for animal, plant health and food safety, in addition to research.
•Energy: California Energy Commission Vice Chair James Boyd and Baja California Energy Director David Muñoz signed an agreement to promote energy efficiency, fuel efficiency and conservation program; promote energy technologies from renewable sources; and coordinate energy related training.
Governor Schwarzenegger and Baja California Governor Osuna Millán have previously collaborated on important issues facing their states including the fight against climate change. At Governor Schwarzenegger’s Global Climate Summit in November 2008, both governors joined global leaders from six countries to sign a declaration to acknowledge the threats of global warming on natural resources and economic prosperity, and called on states and provinces to build and strengthen cooperative efforts to implement strategies that can immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions in advance of the next global agreement on climate change.
Governor Schwarzenegger also recently signed two bills to help enhance the border region’s environmental quality:
•AB 1079 by Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella) establishing the New River Improvement Project, committing California to the restoration of the New River which flows from the city of Mexicali, Baja California, through the city of Calexico, California.
•SB 167 by Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny (D-San Diego) to allow for funds generated by the California tire fee to be used for cleanup of tire waste along the border region.