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United States and Canada Unveil Joint Border Air Quality Strategy

Release Date: 01/06/2003
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CONTACT: David Deegan, 202-564-7839

(01/06/03) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman, along with Canada’s Minister of Environment, the Honourable David Anderson, announced today a commitment by the two countries to build on the transborder air quality improvements of the last decade by starting work to develop new cooperative projects for the years ahead. With today’s announcement, officials in both the United States and Canada have been formally charged with the task of developing joint air quality pilot projects.

“This agreement continues to build on a strong history of cooperation between the United States and Canada to achieve better air quality for all of our citizens,” said Administrator Whitman. “Our partnership will serve as a platform to encourage continued innovation in border air quality management.”

“We want to start work soon because the health benefits from cleaner air will only come through cooperation and action among governments, business and individuals in both countries,” Minister Anderson said. “This initiative is early action on Canada's Speech from the Throne commitment to work with the United States to further improve air quality and work for a healthy environment so as to protect the health of Canadians, the quality of our life and our continued economic prosperity.”

While substantial efforts have already been made to protect U.S.-Canadian border air quality, the two governments said the pilot projects should reflect the following concepts:
  • Emphasis on sustainable development through partnerships, and recognition of the long history of air quality cooperation under the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement;
  • Realization of the importance of coordinated border airshed management;
  • Understanding of transboundary movement of air pollution and its effects on air quality in border areas and subsequent effects to human health and to natural resources of environmental, cultural, and economic importance;
  • Re-emphasis of existing bilateral environmental agreements and traditions of environmental cooperation, including the substantial efforts our countries have made to reduce transboundary air pollution;
  • Reduction in air pollution for the benefit of citizens living in areas along the respective borders; and
  • Reduction of transboundary air pollution in border areas through enhanced cooperative actions.

To implement the Strategy, U.S. government agencies, led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will work with the Canadian Government to identify appropriate pilot projects in consultation with relevant stakeholders such as states, provinces and local governments. A report on potential projects will be completed by April. These projects will serve as a foundation for developing new strategies to improve air quality and address transboundary air pollution of concern to Americans and Canadians alike.

The U.S. and Mexico have also unveiled a similar agreement to help address transboundary air pollution along their border. This initiative was announced on November 26, 2002, at the annual Binational Commission Conference which took place in Mexico City, Mexico.