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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.–An energy park that spans the entire length of the border between the U.S. and Mexico, may be a better solution than a wall, say professors at Purdue and several other colleges.The plan would bring energy, water, jobs and border security to the area, said the professors.

“Just like the transcontinental railroad transformed the United States in the 19th century, or the Interstate system transformed the 20th century, this would be a national infrastructure project for the 21st century,” said Prof. Luciano Castillo, Purdue University’s Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems, and lead of the consortium of 28 scientists and engineers from acorss the country.

“It would do for the Southwest what the Tennessee Valley Authority has done for the Southeast over the last several decades.”

Castillo said he believes the park, which would span 1,954 miles, would provide border security and would preserve the environment.

“All utility plants, pipelines and other energy production facilities have security, as any infrastructure will have under any conditions,” he says. “In addition to physical security features, such as multiple levels of fencing, these pipelines and facilities would also have electronic sensors and drone surveillance. This would allow areas for wildlife to continue to migrate while alerting officials to anyone crossing the border illegally.”

The energy park would also allow for water conservation efforts in one of the driest parts of the country.

“Water conservation efforts are laudable, but they won’t be enough to bring this area out of its crisis,” said Castillo. “And they fall far short of a blueprint for growth and prosperity.”

The proposal offers a plan to increase water resources in the region in two ways, said a news release from Purdue.

First, in the United States, nearly half of the water is used by fossil fuel and nuclear power plants used for cooling, and increasing the amount of wind and solar production of electricity would allow billions of gallons of water available for other resources.

Second, the proposed plan includes wind-powered desalination plants at each coast, which would then pump fresh water into the interior region.

“Now, once you have water, you can have agriculture and manufacturing at levels this region has not seen before,” said Castillo. “Without this, over the next few decades the American Southwest is going to begin running out of water, and then you’re going to see another border crisis, but this one will be at the Canadian border where people will be rushing across to find water.”

Castillo said other resources are plentiful on the border, like oil and gas, solar energy and wind energy, all of which the plan provides ways to harvest.

PHOTO: Graphic provided by Purdue