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U.S. and Mexico Progress on Key Environmental Border Issues

Release Date: 03/24/2006
Contact Information: Suzanne Ackerman, (202) 564-4355 / ackerman.suzanne@epa.gov En español: Lina Younes, 202-564-9924 / younes.lina@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - March 24, 2006) The U.S.-Mexico border region is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world, extending 2,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, with natural features as different as deserts, mountains and beaches. Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock met with Mexican Environmental Undersecretary Felipe Vazquez at the annual meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission (BNC) on the unique environmental challenges for protecting the border's environment and public health. More than 11.8 million people reside here, including four U.S. and six Mexican states, 26 American Indian Tribes, and seven Mexican native populations.

The U.S. EPA works with other countries, particularly our neighbors to the north and south, to protect the environment and public health of all North Americans. The BNC is an annual cabinet-level meeting designed to emphasize the close relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. The 2006 BNC is comprised of 15 workgroups each co-chaired by a United States and Mexican cabinet level official. The BNC's Environmental Health Work Group (EHWG) is co-chaired by the heads of EPA and Mexico's environmental agency, SEMARNAT.

"Today's meeting demonstrates that by working together, we can achieve cleaner air and water for all of our border citizens," said Deputy Administrator Peacock. "I am especially pleased at the agreement on methane recovery, and look forward to other landmark accords in the future."

The U.S. and Mexico signed a Letter of Understanding identifying areas of cooperation in a "Methane to Markets" agreement. Methane is a clean-burning fuel that is the main component of natural gas. The Methane to Markets Partnership is an international initiative that focuses on advancing cost-effective, near-term methane recovery from sources in the petroleum sector for use as a clean energy source. Seventeen countries currently participate in this international initiative which improves the environment world-wide by reducing global methane emissions.

The U.S. applauded Mexico for its commitment to the delivery of low-sulfur fuels in key areas of Mexico beginning this year. EPA has been working closely with Mexican environmental and energy concerns to promote adoption of cleaner fuel standards in Mexico. Mexico recently announced proposed fuel specifications that would harmonize with U.S. gasoline and diesel ultra-low sulfur fuel specifications. Low sulfur diesel fuels will be delivered to the border region beginning in 2007.

The officials were also pleased to announce the first collaboration between a U.S. and Mexican state under the State-to-State environmental collaboration initiative announced at the 2004 BNC meeting. The governors of Chiapas and Wisconsin signed a mutual letter of intent to share expertise on sustainable forestry and forest fire management. The agreement helps these states leverage resources and share expertise and technology.

More information on Border 2012 program: epa.gov/usmexicoborder/

Information on Methane to Markets: epa.gov/methanetomarkets/

News release on the signing: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/names/hq_2006-3-24_methane