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Air Quality Announcement with Canada, Washington, D.C.

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
Air Quality Announcement with Canada
Canadian Embassy
Washington, D.C.

June 23, 2003

Thank you Minister (David) Anderson for that introduction. I = m delighted to be here today to announce important progress in our mutual commitment to providing cleaner air for the citizens we serve.

As my friend Minister Anderson said, air pollution has no regard for geographical borders, so it is imperative that we work together to improve the quality of our air. The U.S. has a long history of working closely with our neighbors to the North to address air quality issues along the border.

Expanded trade under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) combined with population and industrial growth has significantly impacted urban and regional air quality along the U.S. - Canadian border. A growing number of communities in the border region exceed standards for ground- level ozone, and many border residents are frequently exposed to contaminants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter.

Last January, the U.S. and Canada announced the Border Air Quality Strategy designed to alleviate these local air pollution problems. This Strategy is helping improve the exchange of information, fostering the integration of energy and air quality goals, promoting coordinated planning and management, and encouraging innovation.

One purpose of our Border Air Quality Strategy was to work with state and local stakeholders to identify pilot projects that can serve as a foundation for future efforts to improve the air quality along the U.S. - Canadian border.

In the first three pilot projects, we are confident that we have found innovative initiatives that will help us further our work to protect the air we all breathe. The three projects Minister Anderson described were chosen because each offered an opportunity to explore cross-border air quality management at all levels of government and they build on existing efforts where we are already making progress.

The NOX and SO2 Emissions Trading Project is of particular interest as it relates closely to President Bush = s landmark Clear Skies legislation. Clear Skies would utilize an emissions trading program to achieve mandatory reductions of 70 percent in three of the most dangerous pollutants B nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury.

In addition, Clear Skies would require a study to evaluate the feasibility of similar cross- border trading allowances, which would build upon the pilot project we are announcing today. As we pursue these projects and other efforts under the Border Air Quality Strategy, we will do so with the same spirit of cooperation that is already helping us achieve real results B improving our air and protecting the health of our environment for this and future generations.

I want to thank Minister Anderson and the Canadian Embassy for their work on this issue, and for hosting us here this afternoon. Thank you.