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Environment

Traditionally, discussion on environmental prerogatives for Mexico has been defined as environmental factors affecting public health, versus a focus on environmental ecosystems in the United States. These concerns are not mutually exclusive, but rather are two sides of the same coin. Heavy air pollution from vehicles transiting and idling at the border has been linked to increased asthma rates in Tijuana and San Diego. Meanwhile, the burgeoning “maquiladoras” industry in Mexico and the large increase in commercial industry on the U.S. side of the border have created problems with the dumping of toxic commercial waste. Alongside this, a population explosion in border regions without a corresponding development in infrastructure has created human waste and water pollution problems. The U.S. – Mexico border is a quintessential example of the trans-jurisdictional nature of pollution.

   Aside from the nearly 5 million commercial vehicles crossing the border every year, passenger vehicles in the border community are a target for air pollution; the EPA estimates that 72% of vehicles driven in border communities are ten (10) years or older. In Mexico, 92% or more of these are imports from the United States. Uniform vehicle standards are needed on both sides of the border and among all Border States. The porous border means that any anti-dumping law will have to have an equally stringent counterpart on the other side of the fence. As a contributor to global warming, the U.S. – Mexico border could in fact be called a global concern. Both governments can encourage the introduction of efficient commercial vehicles and industrial plants that use alternative energy sources such as bio-diesel or renewable sources of electricity. A bi-national effort under the Border Environment Cooperation Commission has begun to clean up abandoned industrial sites on the border that are heavily contaminated with toxic waste. Point of origin clearance can reduce the idle times of commercial vehicles at the border, drastically reducing the primary cause of air pollution. Cooperation between Mexico and the United States is paramount to any successful environmental-regulation campaign that involves the enforcement of dumping laws and the promotion of energy-efficient commercial technologies.