As the final months of the outgoing administration wind down, President Obama will attempt to add achievements to his legacy such as the “greening” of Mexico City’s new multi-billion-dollar airport and the modernization of Mexican border crossings – that is, the ones leading into but not out of Mexico.
Designing dozens of schools and athletic fields in an Arab kingdom, assessing the deployment of “smart” street lamps in Central America, and devising a financing system to address climate change in Asian cities are projects likewise on the agenda as Obama’s second term draws to a close.
An independent White House entity, for example, intends to aid the Mexican state-owned authority overseeing construction of the new $11 billion Mexico City International Airport project known by the acronym NAICM.
The U.S. Trade & Development Agency, or USTDA, recently agreed to award a nearly $1 million grant to Group Aeroportuario de la Ciudad de México specifically to develop an environmental sustainability management plan for the endeavor, according to a planning document located through routine database research.
The goal of this technical assistance is to ensure that NAICM becomes the first airport worldwide to receive LEED Platinum certification, the ultimate “green” rating.
The Mexico airport entity is aiming to make the NAICM “one of the few airports in the world to be carbon neutral,” meaning the facility would achieve “net-zero carbon dioxide emissions,” according to the project solicitation.
The USTDA funds will enable Group Aeroportuario to hire a firm that will devise a detailed plan to use renewable energy resources, promote public transportation, and develop programs to protect the environment, “including water resources, wildlife, and vegetation,” the USTDA document says.
Though the Mexican authority technically is the recipient of the $924,810 USTDA grant, it is required to hire a U.S. company to carry out the technical assistance project.
And on the Mexican border…
The U.S. Department of State separately is funding the modernization of border-crossing facilities on Mexico’s side of the border, where the U.S. will assist in the construction of housing for additional non-intrusive inspection equipment, or NIIE.
“The government of Mexico has a need to expand its [NIIE] capabilities at its customs ports of entry/exit to secure Mexico’s borders by targeting narcotics, illegal weapons, chemical precursors, bulk cash, illegal aliens, contraband, and prevent terrorist breaches,” State said in recently updated contracting Work Statement.
While State said the estimated cost of the NIIE contract should not exceed $5 million, it should be noted that the endeavor is connected with the Merida Initiative, a massive U.S.-funded Mexican security assistance program for which Congress has appropriated $2.5 billion since 2008.
The new NIIE systems – to be located in the cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, and Zaragoza – are merely the latest addition to more than “766 NIIE successfully operating on a daily basis on its border crossing, sea ports, airports, rail roads and highways, covering about 80 percent of all official borders and points of entry in Mexico.”
These projects are among the most recently unveiled, but they represent a fraction of annual U.S. assistance to Mexico, for which $137.4 million is planned for fiscal year 2017.
WND has reported on such aid programs throughout both terms of the Obama administration, as well as on U.S. taxpayer-funded guidebooks and even public forums giving tips to Mexican businesses on how to more effectively tap into the U.S. Treasury.
USTDA in 2013, for example, funneled $100,000 toward the creation of a guide that simultaneously taught the Mexican government how to access U.S. grants while also directing U.S. industry to related contracts aimed at modernizing Mexico.
The administration one year later unveiled its “Resource Guide for U.S. Industry on Priority Infrastructure Projects” at the three-day U.S.-funded ConnectMEX forum in Mexico City.
Other global aid
The following contracting actions are not intended to provide a comprehensive look at Obama administration foreign-assistance initiatives, but simply offer a snapshot of recently unveiled aid initiatives.
USAID plans to award up to $90 million in contracts to develop a financing system to address climate change in various Asian cities. The project will focus on secondary rather than major cities across the continent.
The endeavor seeks to increase the capacity of such cities in the region “to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from” climate-related events, “and to transform themselves even with uncertainty and escalating climate risks,” USAID says in a document known as a presolicitation notice.
In the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, USAID is arranging the provision of “overall construction management services” to build 25 new schools, perform about 100 school expansions, and to build 300 kindergarten classrooms as well as 50 sports and activity facilities.
The $2.5 million engineering contract is separate from other U.S.-funded Jordanian school construction initiatives. Previous USAID‐funded school construction projects led to the construction of 28 new schools and the expansion of 97 other educational facilities.
The Obama administration in recent years spent many tens of millions on Jordanian schools, in addition to building training facilities to boost the kingdom’s tourism sector.
USTDA approved a $405,000 grant so that a Costa Rican power utility can decide whether to deploy a “smart” street lamp system on urban highways and roads in the greater San José Metropolitan Area.
Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz will use the grant to pay a U.S. firm to conduct a feasibility study of the plan, which involves the replacement of “nearly 100,000 high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor, and metal halide roadway luminaires with energy-efficient LED luminaires.”