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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 5, 2001

Fact Sheet on Environment

     The United States and Mexico share the goal of improving environmental quality, with particular emphasis on the border region, an area undergoing tremendous population and industrial growth. The La Paz Agreement of 1983 defined the border region and laid the groundwork for binational cooperation on the border environment. Under this agreement, EPA and SEMARNAT developed the Border XXI program, which operated for a five-year period period ending in 2000.

     Border XXI achieved a number of successes in hazardous waste management and air pollution monitoring.  EPA and SEMARNAT have agreed that the cooperation initiated under Border XXI will continue and will be expanded.  The U.S. and Mexico will develop a new multi-year plan to follow-on from Border XXI, with increased participation by border stakeholders.

     Under a side-agreement to NAFTA, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico set up the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC).  The CEC provides a mechanism for citizen submissions on questions of compliance with national environmental laws.  It also provides a framework for a number of cooperative efforts in environmental research and education.

     Under a NAFTA-related bilateral agreement, the U.S. and Mexico set up the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADBank).  BECC and NADBank are helping develop the environmental infrastructure that border communities need in this time of rapid growth.  There are now 47 projects either completed or under development.  The U.S. and Mexico are discussing strategies for improving the productivity of BECC and NADBank.

     In 2000, the U.S. and Mexico set up a new binational Border Health Commission.  This Commission will play an active role in a variety of environmental health matters.

     The rapid growth of the border region makes it imperative that the U.S. and Mexico continue and expand their cooperation on environmental matters.  Both countries fully intend to increase their cooperation in the months and years ahead.

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