New report on natural disasters, environment along U.S.-Mexico border

The latest report of a Presidential advisory committee shows how U.S. and Mexican officials can improve their cooperation in coping with floods and other natural disasters that occur along their shared border. The border region provides a compelling example of vulnerable populations often not prepared for natural disasters. Unlike the situation in many such emergencies, residents with different cultures, backgrounds and languages must attempt to coordinate their responses across the border...

WASHINGTON, DC, March 19, 2008 -- The latest report of a Presidential advisory committee shows how U.S. and Mexican officials can improve their cooperation in coping with floods and other natural disasters that occur along their shared border.

The border region provides a compelling example of vulnerable populations often not prepared for natural disasters. Unlike the situation in many such emergencies, residents with different cultures, backgrounds and languages must attempt to coordinate their responses across the border, often through informal channels.

To effectively protect human health and the environment within the U.S.-Mexico border region from natural disasters, the Good Neighbor Environmental Board (GNEB) recommends that the federal government work with appropriate authorities to implement the following policy options:
• Prevent or minimize the impacts of natural disasters through appropriate zoning codes, building codes, landscape requirements, watershed management, and municipal strategic planning.
• Build capacity at the local, state, regional, and tribal levels to effectively manage natural disasters, including cross-border coordination.
• Better integrate current disparate preparedness and response management systems and practical exercises so as to cover all types of emergencies, including natural disasters.
• Expand existing domestic and binational agreements to incorporate U.S.-Mexico border-specific measures related to natural disasters, including measures tailored to specific natural features and human settlements.

The GNEB, an independent Presidential advisory committee managed by EPA, presented the report today in Washington to the President's environmental advisory group, the Council on Environmental Quality.

This is the 11th in a series of reports from the GNEB advising the President and Congress on environmental protection along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Good Neighbor Environmental Board members include representatives from all four U.S. border states as well as nine federal agencies. Border state representatives include senior officials in business and industry, state and local government, ranching and grazing, non-profit groups, tribes, and the academic community. Each year, the Board meets several times in different communities along the U.S. side of the border. Members also have extensive networks across the border that includes families, friends and professional contacts.

To obtain a copy of the new report, titled "Natural Disasters and the Environment Along the U.S. - Mexico Border -- Eleventh Report of the Good Neighbor Environmental Board to the President and Congress of the United States," call 1-800-490-9198 or e-mail at nscep@bps-lmit.com and request the document by number, EPA 130-R-08-001.

To view an electronic copy of the report, see: http://www.epa.gov/ocem/gneb/gneb11threport/English-GNEB-11th-Report.pdf

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