It is only fitting that on this Día de los Muertos I write of the visit by revolutionary Mexican leader Sucomandante Marcos to the Sempra-Shell Costa LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal in northern Baja California. The Sempra site is an open grave – a death shrine that represents a new phase in the way that multinationals export dangerous projects designed for U.S. markets to lesser-developed countries to escape or regulatory framework and acute American NIMBYism (let’s be fair – no one in their right mind would ever want a LNG terminal in their backyard).
In a deal signed off on by President-elect Felipe Calderon when he was Mexico’s Minister of Energy, Sempra destroyed one of Mexico’s most pristine coastal ecosystems to build its LNG terminal. Costa Azul, located between Tijuana and Ensenada (just north of Salsipuedes), was the home to globally endangered coastal sage scrub habitat, a fish camp, and an underground big-wave surf spot called Harry’s.
Marcos visited the Sempra site, just south of the Baja Mar Resort, a couple of weeks ago as part of a long bus tour of Mexico. Covered in his black cap and face mask and dressed in army fatigues, Marcos looked over the project site and declared, “This project is an example of how the new government of Calderon will exploit Mexico’s resources for the profit of foreigners.”
In Mexico, the faded promise of post-revolutionary regimes such as that of Lázaro Cardenas to harness natural resources for national development ended a brutal death at Costa Azul. There, Calderon and Fox opened up their country for a project that has little benefit for Mexico and represents a dramatic change in energy policy for Mexico.
As the United States commences construction of a Berlin Wall to keep Mexicans from crossing the border in order to accept the jobs that American corporations cannot wait to give them, Mexico continues to accept American industrial projects that provide little benefit for its own citizens. Once again the U.S. wins and Mexico loses. But in this case the blame rests entirely with Mexico and Fox’s PAN regime.
Meanwhile, north of the border, activists throughout California recently carried out a massive protest paddle in Malibu against various LNG terminals planned for Southern California. Protesters included Pierce Brosnan, surfing legend Laird Hamilton, Halle Berry and Cindy Crawford.
On November 8-10 Zeus Development Corporation will hold a conference on the future of LNG Development in the Pacific in San Diego and host a tour of the Sempra-Costa Azul facility. Sempra is planning to expand the Costa Azul site to include a second LNG facility.
Last year, Jason Murray and I took our own tour of the Sempra LNG site. Jason is a brilliant surf photographer and “Concussion Magazine” editor who photographed the big waves surfed at Harry’s by Greg and Rusty Long and Brad Gerlach – now the site of Sempra’s LNG jetty. Oddly, Sempra didn’t provide juice and cookies during our tour.
As Jason and I hiked the dirt road through a run-down fish camp to the Sempra construction site, we watched giant trucks dumping boulders on a pristine reef that according to Jason was, “The sport formerly known as Harry’s.” Just prior to Sempra security guards chasing us off the site, Jason turned to me and said, “I feel like I’m going to a friend’s funeral.”
So, on this Día de los Muertos, in honor of Subcomandante Marcos and Jason, I will light a candle for Costa Azul and wish Sempra the worst of luck in all of its endeavors such as the Sunrise Power Link and expanding its LNG operations in Mexico.
Viva Mexico. Viva Día de los Muertos.