POSTED ON JUNE 6, 2007:
Are an international super highway and a North American Union on the horizon?A proposed multi-modal transportation system could leave Oklahoma stuck in the middle
It no doubt seemed like any other day at the state Capitol recently while an apparently unremarkable exchange took place within a fourth-floor conference room over a seemingly innocuous piece of legislation. When passers-by glanced through the glass walls at the suit-and-tie-clad lawmakers and lobbyists deliberating over pie charts and policies, they likely didn't distinguish the event as anything other than the business-as-usual palavers that go on every day beneath the vaulted dome of Oklahoma's statehouse. After all, the same scene repeats itself day after day in that very conference room and others like it, usually with many of the same players.
However, for at least two of the participants, there was nothing routine about the discussion. They had traveled a long way to state their case and to justify themselves before Oklahoma's lawgivers.
If the adversaries arrayed against those two speakers are to be believed, their coming to Oklahoma was just one brief scene within a much larger high-stakes drama in which the very future of our civilization and way of life is in question. An ominous New World Order is quietly emerging by gradual increments, those critics say, toward which the two visitors' activities are but one strand within a vast web of deceit and conspiracy stretching to the highest levels of government in at least three sovereign nations, including our own.
The visitors were Tiffany Melvin and Frank Conde, the executive director and communications/special projects director, respectively, for North America's Super Corridor Coalition (NASCO).
NASCO is a non-profit group with the goal of developing the "world's first international multi-modal transportation system," which would run from Mexico through the United States to Canada along Interstates 35, 29 and 94.
NASCO is not a government agency and does not undertake building projects of its own. Rather, like any highway association, it promotes the stretch of road under its purview and works to coordinate efforts of different state and federal agencies, as well as private industries, to expand and develop it.
The organization took the "NASCO"-moniker in 1996, but was originally founded in 1994 as the "I-35 Corridor Coalition" in order to promote its namesake's potential to facilitate the economic benefits afforded by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"NAFTA... has been a powerful driver of our efforts to continuously seek to develop the efficiency and security of the I-35 corridor to best sustain the dramatic increase in commerce and trade driven by the trade agreement since its inception," said Conde.
Economists predict that international containerized cargo coming into the U.S. will increase 350 percent by 2020, he said, and that exports between the U.S., Canada and Mexico are now at an "all time high."
"We are literally facing a trade tsunami and U.S., Mexico and Canadian infrastructure is unable to handle the burden," said Melvin.
Much of that "burden" resulted from NAFTA's lowering of trade barriers, and NASCO's goal is to develop the I-35 corridor to better accommodate it.
The Road from NAFTA
NAFTA took effect on January 1, 1994, having been signed in 1992 by Canadian President Brian Mulroney, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and U.S. President George H. W. Bush.
It was highly controversial in the U.S., but under the leadership of President Bill Clinton, was ratified by Congress in 1993.
Among other effects, NAFTA immediately eliminated many of the tariffs between the three nations and called for the gradual removal of many others over the next 15 years, all in the interest of facilitating trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The stated purpose of NAFTA was and is to "eliminate barriers to trade (and to) facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services between" the three nations, "promote conditions of fair competition, ...substantially increase investment opportunities," and to "establish a framework for further trilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation to expand and enhance the benefits" of NAFTA, according to the official website of the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration's Office of NAFTA and Inter-American Affairs.
Due to the potential benefits afforded by the agreement, the trade corridor of NASCO's attention was earlier dubbed by the group the "NAFTA Super Highway."
Oklahoma in the Middle
Because much of I-35 passes through Oklahoma, and also because of the existence of a major trade hub in Oklahoma City where I-35 and other major arteries intertwine, the Sooner State is a pivotal player in NASCO's game plan.
That isn't what brought Melvin and Conde to the state Capitol that day in early May, though. At least, not exactly that.
The pair came to personally confront Owasso's Republican Sen. Randy Brogdon over an amendment he submitted to House Bill 1819, as well as over another piece of legislation penned by Brogdon -- Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, which urges the United States to withdraw from the Security and Prosperity Partnership.
HB 1819, by Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, and Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City, would authorize the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) to assume all or part of the National Environmental Policy Act, which ODOT executive director Gary Ridley said amounts to a removal of bureaucratic hurdles to road projects for the agency.
Brogdon's amendment specified that ODOT "shall be prohibited from participating or entering any negotiations or agreement with NASCO," and that "no state funds or federal funds dedicated for state use shall be used for any international, integrated or multi-modal transportation system."
However, Oklahoma has been a member of the coalition since 1995, having "been an integral part of NASCO for longer than any other state since the founding of NASCO by Texas counties," recounted Conde.
In fact, he explained, "NASCO has received incalculably valuable contributions from (Oklahoma) state leaders, beginning with the late Sen. Keith Leftwich."
Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, who authored the resolution twelve years ago declaring Oklahoma's membership in the coalition, also served as a NASCO chairman, Conde said, "and made several bus trips along the Corridor and to Washington, D.C. and into Mexico that helped build out the Corridor's membership and to advocate for NASCO solutions before Congress and other state, national and international legislative and governmental leaders and officials."
"Oklahoma has been and remains a core part of NASCO," added Conde.
Brogdon, though, wants Oklahoma to have nothing whatsoever to do with NASCO.
Ironically, the lawmaker's motivations might best be summed up by his rival.
"In recent months... a few poorly informed and conspiracy-minded groups have falsely alleged NASCO's efforts to enhance business and trade in North America include such aims as the promotion and/or construction of a 'NAFTA superhighway' that would undermine U.S. national sovereignty, promote illegal immigration and harm the U.S. economy. Nothing could be farther from the truth," wrote Melvin to Branan and Sen. Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, prior to her visit to the Oklahoma Capitol.
Branan and Rabon co-chair the Senate Transportation Committee, before which Melvin and Conde appeared to defend NASCO and argue for Oklahoma's continued involvement with it. Members of the panel's House counterpart as well as representatives of ODOT were also in audience.
"The Arizona-based Minuteman Civil Defense Corps... the ultra-right wing John Birch Society and a number of less than authoritative fringe organizations have attempted to convince the general public and legislators in the Oklahoma Legislature that there exists a genuine, active governmental conspiracy to merge the sovereign nations of Mexico, the United States and Canada into a North American Union... and that NASCO aims to undermine the sovereignty and strength of American governmental institutions," Melvin continued in her correspondence.
"All of these claims are baseless," she added.
One of those "less than authoritative fringe organizations" to which Melvin referred is Oklahoma City-based "Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise" (OK-SAFE).
"She uses words like 'fringe group' and 'conspiracy theory' to marginalize people who pay attention to what's going on," said Ken Sellers, Broken Arrow resident and vice president of OK-SAFE.
OK-SAFE is an umbrella group for numerous like-minded organizations within Oklahoma, he said, and their member count is intentionally unpublished "for political reasons."
The organization is also part of a larger network of groups from across the nation, Sellers said, which are concerned about infringements on U.S. sovereignty and founding principles.
For his day job, Sellers is vice president of engineering for the Gunnebo Johnson Corporation, which manufactures industrial lifting equipment and is an American affiliate of the international Gunnebo Industrier Group.
That there is, in fact, a "genuine, active governmental conspiracy" to create a North American Union, Sellers has no question, and NASCO's efforts to expand and develop the I-35 corridor are but an initial step toward that end, he said.
A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama
Integration of the three nations' economies, as well as the creation of a shared transportation infrastructure (both of which are stated goals of NAFTA and NASCO, respectively), are the first steps within a broader plan to merge the three into a single entity similar to the European Union, Sellers explained.
That broad plan, he said, is largely the brainchild of a certain Robert Pastor, whom Sellers characterized as "a towering intellectual" and whom critics call the "Father of the North American Union."
Pastor served as President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor on Latin America and the Caribbean, and in that capacity, he experienced a brief period of notoriety in the late 1970s for his role in the U.S. ceding control of the Panama Canal to Panama, which later cost him an appointment as the U.S. Ambassador to Panama under the Clinton administration in 1994.
Prior to his nomination to that post by Clinton, Pastor filled another ambassadorial role as an advisor to the U.S. NAFTA negotiating team.
He currently serves as the vice president of International Affairs at the Washington, D.C.-based American University and as professor of International Relations. Pastor also heads the university's Center for North American Studies as well as its Institute for Democracy and Election Management.
He also taught numerous courses for several years at the Atlanta, Ga.-based Emory University's Department of Political Science.
Pastor's voluminous resume also includes his position as vice chairman of the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, which was formed by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Sellers and others have described the Council on Foreign Relations as "the government behind the government" because of its extensive level of influence on elected officials and its behind-the-scenes role in steering the ship of American foreign policy.
"The Council has promoted understanding of foreign policy and America's role in the world since its founding in 1921," said CFR President Richard N. Haass in a statement found on the group's website at CFR.org.
"It does this in a variety of ways: by convening meetings at which government officials, global leaders and Council members debate major foreign-policy issues; by operating a think tank that is home to the world's most prominent scholars of international affairs; by sponsoring task forces and commissioning books and reports; and by publishing Foreign Affairs, the leading journal of global politics," Haass continued.
"Our goal is to use the Council's convening power and intellectual resources to help inform not only our members, but also Congress, the administration, the media, and the business community," said CFR Vice President and Director Nancy Roman.
The Council is based in New York City but has a significant presence in Washington, D.C.
"The Washington Program is a place where policymakers turn for guidance, to test new ideas and to engage with experts as they seek to develop policy initiatives. The Congress and U.S. Foreign Policy Program engages policymakers on Capitol Hill with a series of initiatives that include briefings for new members of Congress, a monthly briefing on foreign policy issues for chiefs of staff, an Experts Bank that allows us to custom build briefings on issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to Iraq for members of Congress or congressional delegations and, of course, we continue our longstanding Friday roundtable discussions with senior foreign-policy staff," continued Roman.
Current CFR membership includes Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, recently resigned World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and Democratic Massachusetts Sen. and 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry, to name a few.
The CFR is the subject of no small amount of suspicion by commentators like Brogdon, Sellers and numerous others because it has such a significant role in shaping public policy and influencing public officials but, as a private, independent organization, it does not have the transparency and public accountability that are supposed to characterize government agencies.
As well as "the government behind the government," Sellers also called the Council "the Fourth, un-elected Branch of Government."
Haass mentioned the Council's think tank and its sponsoring of task forces and commissioning of books as some of the group's methods of promoting "understanding of foreign policy and America's role in the world."
Pastor's distinction as "the Father of the North American Union" came about largely from his role as one of the "world's most prominent scholars of international affairs" who make up the Council's think tank, from his role as an advisor to the NAFTA negotiating team, as well as from having written, contributed and/or edited many of the books referred to by Haass, which call for the building of a "North American community."
The final report of the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America -- Building a North American Community -- contains many of the ideas long promoted by Pastor.
The work for which he is best known, though, and which best sums up his ideas, is probably Toward a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New, which was published in 2001.
The volume contains numerous proposals "to launch the creation of a true North American Community."
Those proposals include integration of the infrastructure and transportation networks of North America; creation of a "development fund to reduce income disparities across the countries;" a "move toward a Customs Union in five years with a Permanent North American Court on Trade and Investment;" "forg(ing) a more humane immigration policy that includes 'North American passports' for frequent travelers, immigration preferences and a larger temporary program with safeguards;" reducing duplication by harmonizing customs and immigration regulations, with a "North American Customs and Immigration Force" to enforce them; and adoption of a common currency.
Pastor argued in his book that NAFTA's perceived failure for the prior seven years came from having too few institutions overseeing the three nations' trade activities and resolving their difficulties, like the "peso crisis" of 1994-95.
He also used the European Union as a model for rectifying shortcomings in NAFTA and developing a North American Community.
"Is a North American Community feasible? Are the three governments willing to consider reducing their sovereignty?" Pastor rhetorically asked in his manifesto (emphasis added).
A More United America...?
While Sellers isn't shy about his admiration for Pastor's "towering intellect," that admiration does not extend to his philosophy of life and government.
"For a conservative, or at least a traditional American--as soon as you develop interdependencies on other countries--especially those who have different philosophies and cultural norms--you give up your uniqueness," he said. "Their belief is that interdependency buys peace, but we've seen from history that isn't true."
"Our Founding Fathers warned against entanglements with foreign nations for this reason," Sellers continued. "If you harmonize regulations, you compromise principles in order to conform to other people and you find you don't have the freedom you once had."
If it is to retain its foundational principles, Sellers said the United States is ultimately incompatible with its northern and southern neighbors because "Canada is socialist and Mexico is a corrupt oligarchy."
The philosophy behind Pastor's blueprint for an EU-style "North American Community" is secular humanist and socialist, Sellers also commented.
For instance, he said Pastor's recommendation for a development fund to "reduce income disparities" between the three nations, in plain language, would amount to redistributing American wealth in Mexico, thereby creating a socialist form of tri-national bureaucracy.
"It's a leveling out of social status that they want," Sellers said.
Because Pastor and the Council's goals spring from humanist and socialist philosophical aims, Sellers said most Americans, who are predominantly of Christian and capitalist mindsets, wouldn't be agreeable to what's happening if they were more aware of it.
Brogdon, who filed his legislation to frustrate what he sees as developments toward a North American Union, said the true aims of Pastor and the CFR largely escape public notice because they're couched in "antiseptic Politic-speak" and "bureaucratese" (akin to "Newspeak" in George Orwell's 1984).
It is for the sake of such subtlety, Sellers believes, that Pastor pointed to the EU as the model to follow in transforming the three nations into a single entity.
"The lesson (from the EU) is that you implement it from the ground up instead of from the top down," he explained.
In other words, rather than a sudden, dramatic political revolution or coup d' etat in which a new regime overthrows the old and suddenly decrees a new social order, Sellers said Pastor's blueprint is to accomplish it by gradual increments: create a shared infrastructure; integrate economies and populations; harmonize laws; create shared agencies responsible for security, trade and law enforcement; create a common court system and indoctrinate populations into a shared national identity.
By engineering all of the institutions and bureaucracies that characterize a single nation, but across three smaller countries, they'll soon forget that they're three distinct nations and accept their common nationality, he explained.
"If you make it all happen on the ground first, you can change the labels later on," added Sellers.
The initial steps toward a North American Union have already been taken through NAFTA, Sellers said.
Along with beginning the integration of the three nation's economies, as well as the creation of a demand for a shared transportation infrastructure (which NASCO is working hard to oblige), Sellers also pointed to Chapter 20 of the agreement, which deals with conflict resolution.
The text of NAFTA specifies that a foreign party is to seek redress within the country in which it has a grievance, but if it's dissatisfied with the outcome, the party can appeal to an international panel, which has the final say.
"Oklahoma finds itself subject to NAFTA," said Sellers. "That means our sovereignty is trumped," he added.
Meanwhile, as the merger progresses through tri-national agreements, the academic world is also doing its part, he said.
Sellers pointed to various academic projects that he said are aimed at indoctrinating young people into the idea of being "North American" rather than "American," "Canadian" or "Mexican," such as the yearly model North American Parliament--"The Triumvirate"--hosted this year by Pastor's department at the American University from May 20-25.
"The Triumvirate is a unique parliamentary exercise that annually brings together a hundred university students, from Canada, Mexico and the United States, in order to simulate... a parliamentary meeting between North American national and sub-national parliamentarians, joined by journalists and lobbyists," reads the description of the event at the website of its co-sponsor, the North American Forum for Integration, at FINA-NAFI.org.
(See also American.edu/ia/cnas/index.cfm)
Another example is an online project by Arizona State University, "Building North America," which provides teaching and research resources for college professors.
"This site was inspired by the notion that economic integration in the NAFTA Triad (Canada-U.S.-Mexico) was advancing despite the lack of press and public attention it received, and that a presence on the web would allow those of us in the Triad countries, and beyond, to 'link up' to a growing body of research and, by extension, to one another as professional colleagues in the academic, business, and policy worlds," reads the project's description at ASU.edu/clas/nacts/bna/who.html.
Teaching modules include a general overview of North American Economic Integration, "Managing North America," and "North American Structures and Sites of Integration."
Sellers went on to explain that many of the proposals made by Pastor in his book, along with appearing in many of his previous works, were also on the agenda of Mexican President Vicente Fox, which he planned to advance in a visit to Washington, D.C. in 2001 in a plan popularly referred to as "NAFTA Plus."
However, the emphases of the three-nation talks changed drastically in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with security superseding trade as a priority.
The eventual outcome of the re-defined agenda of the three nation's discussions was the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, which was announced March 23, 2005, by Fox, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and Pres. George W. Bush following a meeting of the three in Waco, Texas.
The stated goals of the SPP are to "establish a cooperative approach to advance our common security and prosperity;" development of a common North American security strategy to secure the continent from external and internal threats and to "streamline the secure and efficient movement of legitimate and low-risk traffic" across borders; promotion of "economic growth, competitiveness and quality of life" through "cooperation and information sharing," which would include coordinated environmental protection efforts and coordinated responses to pandemics and natural disasters.
"Our Partnership... will help consolidate our action into a North American framework to confront security and economic challenges, and promote the full potential of our people, addressing disparities and increasing opportunities for all," said Bush, Fox and Martin in a joint statement.
The nuts and bolts of the SPP amounted to the establishment of numerous "ministerial-led working groups" that would consult with "stakeholders" in the respective countries.
"These working groups will respond to the priorities of our people and our businesses, and will set specific, measurable, and achievable goals. They will identify concrete steps that our governments can take to meet these goals, and set implementation dates that will permit a rolling harvest of accomplishments," reads the March 23, 2005 White House statement.
The working groups are to submit semi-annual progress reports to heads of government. What details there are about their progress are available at SPP.gov.
The "Myths vs. Facts"-section of the SPP website is testament to the level of controversy the Partnership has engendered in the past two years since its creation.
CNN's Lou Dobbs is arguably one of the most vocal participants in that controversy. While he is somewhat of a novelty in the mainstream news media in this regard, he's among many who see the SPP as an intermediary step toward a North American Union.
"The Bush administration's open-borders policy and its decision to ignore the enforcement of this country's immigration laws is part of a broader agenda," said Dobbs during his June 21, 2006 broadcast.
Sellers explained that he believes the President's "broader agenda" is identical to that advanced by Pastor and the CFR.
"Why doesn't he secure the border? It makes no sense, with terrorists coming across the border, unless he has some other agenda," he said.
Sellers pointed to what he views as Bush's leniency toward illegal immigration as an indication of that "broader agenda," as well as the President's plan for a U.S. Department of Transportation pilot program that would grant 100 Mexican trucking companies full access to U.S. highways for up to 1,000 vehicles for one year, after which time the borders would be fully open to all Mexican trucks.
"That's his way of getting people used to the idea of Mexican trucks driving through the United States," he said.
Dobbs went on to say that, through the SPP "President Bush signed a formal agreement that will end the United States as we know it, and he took the step without approval from either the U.S. Congress or the people of the United States."
Claims like Dobb's and Sellers' are often dismissed as "baseless conspiracy theories" by NASCO representatives and other concerned parties (once again, see the SPP 'Myth vs. Facts' website, for instance), but not by all.
Apparently, many within the Oklahoma Legislature are convinced of their veracity, as Brogdon's SCR 10, which urges the U.S. to withdraw from the SPP, recently unanimously passed both the Senate and the House.
Resolutions are non-binding expressions of the collective will of the Oklahoma Legislature, so it remains to be seen if Brogdon's legislation will have any real effect.
However, with its passage, Oklahoma joins 17 other states with similar legislative initiatives.
Brogdon can't boast the same success for his amendment to HB 1819, though. His amendment has since been removed in a conference committee.
Apparently, Conde and Melvin were successful in defending NASCO's aims when they appeared before state lawmakers.
"NASCO is not building or encouraging the creation of a 'NAFTA Superhighway,'" assured Melvin.
"I-35 and key crossing interstates such as I-80 already exist and have been described as a 'NAFTA Superhighway' due to the loads they bear since the 1994 passage of NAFTA. They require attention to support future growth," she continued.
Conde said the rumors spread by "fringe organizations" that NASCO is working for the development of an international, four-football-field-wide "Superhighway" along the I-35 corridor from Laredo, Texas to Duluth, Mich. "have been particularly harmful to discussions," and have misled numerous legislators, like Brogdon, to deride NASCO as a subversive organization.
ODOT director Gary Ridley, though, said NASCO is "certainly not a subversive organization."
He said he hasn't seen anything to indicate the coalition is any different from any other highway association with which Oklahoma is joined.
"As far as I know, the NASCO coalition is just concerned with improving transportation," said Ridley.
David Streb, assistant chief engineer and director of pre-construction for ODOT, said NASCO has been instrumental in helping Oklahoma coordinate with other states for the development of the transportation infrastructure, and has also convinced the federal government to identify I-35 as a high-priority corridor, thereby qualifying Oklahoma for much-needed federal funds for its upkeep and development.
"NASCO has done a tremendous job with freight and with coordinating efforts," said Streb.
"If we didn't see the benefits of belonging to NASCO, we wouldn't be paying our dues," he added.
Streb, though, said that his agency's assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of ODOT's membership with NASCO doesn't take the issues raised by Brogdon into consideration.
"Senator Brogdon's concerns are far out-reaching transportation--he's thinking about national security and citizens' rights, and those are concerns that are way beyond the scope of transportation," he said.
"We still have a professional responsibility for moving hundreds of thousands of trucks a day, and for planning the transportation infrastructure," continued Streb.
Conde and Melvin, though, deny that Brogdon's concerns have any weight.
They said NASCO's only purpose is improving transportation along I-35, and that they have nothing to do with any conspiracy to create a North American Union.
"NASCO efforts and solutions help aid and strengthen the enforcement of all U.S. laws and never support undermining the sovereignty of the U.S. or its neighboring nations... (and) NASCO does not encourage the opening or elimination of international borders," said Melvin.
Sellers isn't convinced, though.
One of the reasons for his skepticism is that NASCO chairman George Blackwood is also chairman of the North American International Trade Corridor Partnership (NAITCP).
Robert Pastor also happens to be a regular participant in NAITCP activities.
As an indication of the aims of NAITCP, Sellers pointed to an excerpt from a declaration defining the group's 2004 summit in Kansas City, Mo.
"The economic vitality and social integration of our communities demand open, dynamic and secure borders," the declaration reads.
"We urge our governments to assist us in forming a North American Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that will formulate a strategic vision for an integrated regional logistics system," it continues.
Sellers said he is particularly alarmed by the group's goals for "social integration," a shared tri-national logistics system, and a tri-national bureaucracy to bring these about.
Taking Back Texas
While NASCO representatives deny any plans for a so-called "NAFTA Superhighway," Conde explained that a project currently in the works in Texas is often misidentified as such.
The Trans-Texas Corridor, as it is planned, will be composed of a 4,000 mile network of supercorridors up to 1,200 feet wide in parts (which is roughly about the length of four football fields), and will include rail, toll ways and utility lines, and will follow the I-35 Corridor from the Mexico border to the Oklahoma border, according to KeepTexasMoving.org, which is run by the Texas Department of Transportation.
The toll ways will have separate lanes for passenger vehicles and freight vehicles, while the rail lines will likewise be divided among commuter, freight and high-speed rail.
Another leg of the TTC would follow the I-69 corridor, connecting from the Mexican border to Oklahoma, and would include many of the aforementioned features.
The project came about in part because of the coordinating and fund-raising efforts of NASCO, and is "a solution for today's congestion and tomorrow's transportation needs," also according to KeepTexasMoving.org.
"Rapid population growth during recent years and a substantial increase in the number of vehicles using Texas highways have left many roadways overloaded. Sizable growth in both population and traffic are expected to continue indefinitely," the TxDOT site also reads.
Conde and Melvin previously stated that development and expansion of the North American Super Corridor is necessary to accommodate the "trade tsunami" resulting from NAFTA, which the TTC was conceptualized to accommodate.
However, they insist that Texas is the only state in which such a massive project is underway, and that there are no plans in any other states for such a project.
Ridley was asked, however-- What happens when all of that traffic from Texas reaches the Red River and bottlenecks at the Oklahoma border?
"We've monitored what they're doing and that's something we'll have to plan for," he answered.
Remember the Alamo!
Oklahoma won't be the only other state that will have to plan for a four-football-field-wide asphalt behemoth to pass through its lands if the TTC is built, according to at least one Texas lawmaker.
"If the domino falls in Texas, I think people will be doing Triple P's all over the United States," said Texas state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst in explanation of her ongoing quest to put the brakes on the project.
A "Triple P," she explained, is a "Public/Private Partnership," which is a descriptor of the TTC that sums up another of its more controversial aspects.
According to the plan, private entities would manage the TTCs tolls under contracts lasting as long as 50 years, which is one of the many features of the project that has so many Texans so riled up.
Not least among them is Kolkhorst.
The Lone Star Republican is the House author of SB 792, which recently made its way through Texas' legislative gauntlet just in time for the end of session.
The bill sets a two-year moratorium on the project, with certain exclusions.
TTC opponents have objected, though, that some of the legalese contained in SB 792 might create a loophole exempting the I-35-related portions of TTC projects from the moratorium, which prompted Kolkhorst to submit Amendment 13, which would close the loophole with more specific language.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has long supported construction of the TTC, initially vetoed SB 792 because of the amendment.
It has since returned to his desk, sans amendment, and he's publicly promised to sign it into law (although he hadn't, yet, at the time of this writing).
Kolkhorst said she's confident that the bill alone is strong enough to impose the moratorium without the amendment.
"I think we've made enough of an issue out of it that if they were planning on using the loophole, they're not now--every senator and representative knows the legislative intent of SB 792 now, which is to halt construction of the TTC, including the I-35 portions of it," she said.
The purpose of that two-year moratorium, Kolkhorst said, is for Texas lawmakers to set up a study and review committee to examine the TTC's more far-reaching effects.
"If this is a move toward a 'New World Order' or, at least, (a new order) in the Americas, then the citizens need to know so they can react," she said.
Kolkhorst is confident of what that reaction will be if it comes to light that there are plans brewing to bring about a North American Union.
"I don't think America will ever succumb to that," she said.
Rather, Kolkhorst suggested, "Remember the Alamo" will become a battle cry no longer reserved for use in Texas alone.
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