New U.S.-Mexico border environmental plan released

April 8, 2003
The U.S. and Mexico have finalized a new 10-year plan to protect public health and the environment in the 2,000-mile border region where almost 12 million citizens of both countries live.

10 states, U.S. tribes involved in plan

April 8, 2003 -- The United States and Mexico recently finalized a new 10-year cooperative plan to protect public health and the environment in the 2,000-mile border region where almost 12 million citizens of both countries live.

The new program, Border 2012, will focus on decreasing air, water, waste and soil pollution and lowering the risks of exposure to pesticides and other chemicals.

The signing of the plan and the launching of the program took place this morning in Tijuana, Baja California Norte. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher and Secretaria del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) Undersecretary Raul Arriaga signed the framework document and presided over the launching of the new cooperative plan.

They were joined by representatives of 10 U.S. and Mexico border states, U.S. border tribes, and other federal, state and local agencies who helped develop the program and will participate in its implementation.

"Border 2012 further advances two decades of significant federal, state and local achievements in protecting the environment and public health on both sides of the border," said Fisher. "We are excited by the prospect that the priorities we have set, and the actions we will take, will be based on input from local communities and organizations. We are convinced that this approach will keep us focused and greatly enhance our chances of success."

"This program has made us more aware of the points we have in common as well as the challenges we face jointly, instead of our differences," said Arriaga. "The environment does not know boundaries. On the contrary, the geography and resources that we share are the element that validates our friendship and binds our destinies."

SEMARNAT Secretary Victor Lichtinger and EPA Administrator Christie Whitman called for the development of the new border plan two years ago after the successful conclusion of the Border XXI program.

The ten border region states involved in the new program are Baja California Norte, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas in Mexico and California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States.

Key elements of the new program are

* the inclusion of the 10 U.S. and Mexico border states and U.S. tribes as partners in developing and implementing the program,

* a new organizational structure focusing on regional workgroups to facilitate regional-level and local-level planning and priority setting, and,

* a focus on goals and objectives bases on measurable environmental and public health outcomes.

The development of the new program included a public participation process and a 60-day comment period. The program partners held 27 public meetings in communities along the border and received more than 1,000 comments on the draft framework document. Similar partnership efforts are planned for the implementation of the program.

The new program is the latest phase in the strong binational environmental relationship which began in 1983 with the signing of the La Paz agreement, a binational agreement aimed at protecting and improving the environment along the border.

In addition to the final framework document, Operational Guidance has been adopted to help partners, stakeholders, and the public in understanding the implementation process. In addition, the Response Summary Report provides a detailed account of the comments received during the public comment period and the incorporation of them into the final program.

Copies of these publications, as well as additional information on Border 2012, are available in English and Spanish at either of the following web sites:

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