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Preserving Air Quality for Today and Tomorrow

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hiking photoUnder Annex 1, Canada and the United States have committed to prevent air quality deterioration and to protect visibility from sources that could cause significant transboundary air pollution.

Canada is addressing this commitment through the Canada-Wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000 and through the implementation of Canada-Wide Standards for Particulate Matter and Ozone. These programs include principles such as pollution prevention, continuous improvement (CI), and keeping clean areas clean (KCAC). The KCAC principle recognizes that polluting “up to a limit” is not acceptable and that the best strategy to avoid future problems is to keep clean areas clean. Jurisdictions are cooperatively developing a national guidance document on CI/KCAC as part of the Standards.

In the United States, the Prevention of Significant Air Quality Deterioration (PSD) Program, in place since the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments, is aimed at limiting future air pollution from new major sources. Through case-by-case determination of best available control technology (BACT), air quality modeling, and limited increases in air pollution to levels below current standards, the PSD program protects public health from the negative effects of air pollution. It also preserves, protects, and enhances air quality and visibility in Class I areas (national parks and wilderness areas).

Notifying Neighbors—The Importance of Communication

Canada and the United States regularly notify each other concerning any proposed action, activity, or project that would be likely to cause significant transboundary air pollution within 100 kilometers (km), or 62 miles, of the border. Since notification began in 1994, Canada has notified the United States of 26 new sources of potential transboundary air pollution, and the United States has notified Canada of 23. Transboundary notification information is available on the Internet sites of the two governments at:

Over the years, the two nations developed a system of ongoing, successful informal consultations regarding sources they believe are already causing pollution problems. The consultation process has resulted in cooperative air quality monitoring in Saskatchewan (Boundary Dam Power Plant) and North Dakota, and in Ontario (Algoma Steel Mill) and Michigan. An informal consultation on the Conners Creek power plant in Detroit was successfully concluded when the plant’s fuel was changed from coal to natural gas. This high level of cooperation has enabled the two nations to more effectively manage air quality in shared airsheds.


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