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US, Mexico sign agreement on border environmental issues

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Mexico’s Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources Juan Elvira Quesada yesterday signed the Border 2020 U.S.-Mexico Environmental program agreement which will address high priority environmental and public health problems in the 2,000 mile border region. It follows the Border 2012 environmental agreement which ends this year.

Jackson noted that environmental degradation, pollution, and the diseases they trigger "don’t stop at the national boundaries.”

The Border 2020 program works to reduce pollution in water, air, and on land, reduce exposure to chemicals from accidental releases or terrorism, and improve environmental stewardship. It is the latest environmental program implemented under the 1983 U.S.-Mexico La Paz Agreement. It builds on the Border 2012 program and encourages meaningful participation from communities and local stakeholders through regional task forces.

Over the next eight years, the Border 2020 Environmental program will work towards significant improvements that will focus on five key areas:

- Reducing air pollution in bi-national air sheds by promoting vehicle inspection programs and road paving, and encouraging anti-idling technologies such as diesel truck electrification at ports-of-entry.

- Improving access to clean and safe water as well as improving water quality in the bi-national watersheds.

- Promoting materials and waste management, and addressing contaminated sites as well as management practices for addressing electronics, lead acid batteries, tires, and trash.

- Enhancing joint preparedness for environmental and emergency response.

- Enhancing compliance assurance and environmental stewardship.

The new Border 2020 program also strengthens its focus in regional areas where environmental improvements are needed most: establishing realistic and concrete goals, supporting the implementation of projects, considering new fundamental strategies, and encouraging the achievement of more ambitious environmental and public health goals.

Border 2012, which concludes this year, resulted in numerous achievements, including connecting households to drinking water and wastewater services benefitting more than 8.5 million border residents. In addition, the program helped remove more than 12 million scrap tires from dump sites border wide and more than 75.5 metric tons of obsolete pesticides from rural areas in California, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.

As the home to over 14 million people and one of the busiest cross-border trade regions in the world, protecting human health and the environment in the border region is essential to ensuring that the U.S. continues to be safe, healthy and economically productive. The Border 2020 U.S.-Mexico Environmental program will protect the environment and public health for 10 states on both sides of the 2,000-mile border, including 26 U.S. tribes and seven groups of Mexican indigenous people.

More information as well as a fact sheet on Border 2020: http://www.epa.gov/usmexicoborder/

A video on Border 2012 and 2020: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzUKe5NCEU0

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