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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As an alternative approach to securing the border, a group of scientists and engineers have proposed the U.S. and Mexico build a sprawling "energy park" of wind turbines, water desalination plants, solar panels and natural gas pipelines.

The big picture: An energy corridor could offer the benefits of a secured physical barrier, since the infrastructure would be well protected, while also creating job opportunities for both migrants and U.S. workers. It has some potential for bipartisan appeal, and President Trump even suggested a similar idea in 2017.

Where it stands: The group's plan was delivered to Congress last month, though it remains to be seen whether it will be incorporated into any legislation.

How it works: The proposal — from 29 academics at universities across the U.S. — calls for $1.1 billion in taxpayer funding to start, but total costs have not been defined.

  • The goal would be to create private-public partnerships to attract private investment from energy companies and manufacturers during the construction phase and later for operation.
  • Supporters argue that the economic and environmental benefits the project promises could far outweigh the costs, providing stable and well-paying job opportunities for migrants and clean energy for generations to come.

Yes, but: There are still many challenges that would need to be addressed, including the total public cost, security standards and potential risks like bribes offered to employees by drug traffickers.

The bottom line: An energy corridor could simultaneously strengthen U.S.–Latin America ties while improving border and energy security.

Sarah E. Hunt is the co-founder and CEO of Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy.

Go deeper

New wave of strikes will test worker power

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thousands of John Deere workers hit the picket line this week after the union smacked down a new worker contract from the farm and equipment maker.

Why it matters: There’s a wave of worker angst spreading across the country. They wield new power that’s come with a historic worker shortage.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Technology

The smart city comes of age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Better sensors, more intelligent AI, and the coming wave of 5G wireless could finally fulfill the promise of the smart city.

Why it matters: How we organize, run and power our cities will be increasingly important in the years ahead, as urbanization expands and the damaging effects of climate change compound.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
10 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.