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Good Neighbor Environmental Board Meeting, Washington, D.C.

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman

Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

at the

Good Neighbor Environmental Board Meeting

Washington, D.C.

February 19, 2003

Thank you Chair (Placido) dos Santos for that introduction.

I = m pleased to be here today and to have the opportunity to thank you for all the important work that you are doing to address environmental border issues shared by the United States and Mexico.

Over the past few years, real progress has been made in improving environmental conditions along the border; however, much remains to be done.

As you know, perhaps one of the greatest environmental challenges we face pertains to our border air quality.

Expanded trade combined with population and industrial growth has significantly impacted urban and regional air quality along the U.S. - Mexico border.

In November, I was in Mexico for discussions on new initiatives to further our efforts to improve air quality and other environmental border conditions.

At that time, the Border Air Quality Strategy was announced by President Bush which will work to alleviate local air pollution problems.

This new project will improve the exchange of information, foster the integration of energy and air quality goals, promote coordinated planning and management, and encourage innovation.

Currently, EPA and our Mexican government counterparts are working with state and local stakeholders to identify pilot projects that will assist us in developing new air quality strategies that will effectively make the air cleaner and healthier.

I = m pleased that Laura Yoshii has had an opportunity to brief you on our Border 2012 program, which deals with a wider range of environmental issues.

Specifically, Border 2012 will strive to meet five border wide goals that focus on improving air and water quality, decreasing land pollution, and reducing exposure to pesticides and chemicals.

This new ten-year plan will guide environmental cooperation by emphasizing a bottom- up regional approach that will more fully involve local decision makers in order to assure that the priorities we set are in line with the environmental issues that are of greatest concern to local communities.

We look forward to continued input from this Board as the Border 2012 program is implemented.

Much of the work that we are doing has been greatly supported by your efforts here. As I mentioned in my response to your Fifth Report, your call for partnerships, information sharing, and input from border communities as a means to lasting progress was right on target.

And, as you can see in these two latest initiatives partnership and regional cooperation are the tools we are using to make sure that we achieve our environmental goals along the border.

I look forward to reviewing your Sixth Report and the valuable insight I = m sure it will offer as we continue to move forward in addressing these issues.

I want to thank the board for all of your valuable work highlighting the progress that is being made and issues that still need to be addressed.

In addition, I want to thank the other panelists and attendees here this morning. Your participation and insight are valuable contributions to this important dialogue, and I look forward to reviewing the board = s report to learn more about the thoughts and ideas expressed during the public comment session.

At this time, I = d like to take a few moments to answer any questions from members of the board.

Thank you.