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Environment Track of the U.S.- India Economic Dialogue

FACT SHEET: Revised: March 1, 2006

The Environment Track of the U.S.-India Economic Dialogue was established as a result of the Joint Statement issued by the White House following the meeting between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of India on November 9, 2001. This prompted the visit to India by the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2002, where a “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Between the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America and The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) of the Government of India Concerning Cooperation in Environmental Protection” was signed. This MOU established a framework for policy and technical cooperation between MoEF and EPA (with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development) in four major areas: air quality management, water quality management, management of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste, and environmental governance. In 2005, EPA also entered into a Cooperative Agreement with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute in India to also support activities under the MOU and Environment Track.

The leadership of the U.S.-India Economic Dialogue is promoting greater integration of the U.S. and Indian private sector into the efforts of the Economic Dialogue. The Environment Track is similarly seeking avenues to promote increased private sector engagement, to supplement the emphasis to date of government to government cooperation. To accomplish this, the Environment Track has identified several focused government-industry environmental partnerships that it will champion. These partnerships address shared environmental priorities and promote activities with both local and global environmental benefits. They will provide a platform to engage the private sector in bilateral environmental cooperation activities, and will also seek to promote cross-Ministerial/Agency cooperation. They also demonstrate the sorts of collaboration envisioned for the new Asia Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate Change. The three government-industry environmental partnerships to be promoted include:

Methane-to-Markets Partnership: India and the U.S. are founding country partners of the Methane to Markets Partnership to reduce global methane emissions to enhance economic growth, improve the environment, promote energy security, and reduce greenhouse gases. Other benefits include improving mine safety, reducing waste, and improving local air quality. Initial bilateral cooperation is expected to focus on promoting methane recovery and use at landfills, coal mines, and in the petroleum and natural gas sector. EPA and the U.S. Trade Development Agency are working with the Government of India to develop a Coalbed Methane Clearinghouse to promote projects and private sector engagement in coalbed/coal mine methane opportunities. Workshops on Landfill Methane are also planned for New Delhi and Mumbai in March 2006.

Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles: Initial activities under this partnership will bring together relevant government, industry, research organizations and other stakeholders to better characterize emissions from in-use vehicles, demonstrate technology options for reducing diesel emission from heavy-duty vehicles, and share U.S. expertise and tools to encourage improved fuel quality, consistent with goals outlined in India’s Auto Fuel Policy. A Diesel Retrofit Demonstration Project in Pune will be launched in April 2006.

Mercury Partnerships: Under this initiative the U.S. and India will seek to promote best management practices to reduce environmental releases through training, demonstration, and technology transfer activities working with relevant U.S. and Indian private sector partners. Key areas being pursued include improving monitoring and inventory of mercury emissions, exploring opportunities for reducing mercury in products where cost-effective alternatives exist, and encouraging efforts to reduce releases of mercury from key sector sources, such as those outlined in MoEF’s Charter for Corporate Responsibility for Environmental Protection.

U.S.-India Environmental Cooperation will also be further developed under the four core activity areas of the EPA-MoEF Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation in Environmental Protection:

1. Air Quality Management:

Urban Air Quality Management
This program provides training, demonstration and technology transfer to support adoption of science-based air pollution control strategies in Indian cities in order to (a) establish baseline data on ambient air quality and pollution sources; (b) define most cost-effective source reduction opportunities and investments; (c) assist policymakers to evaluate health and economic impacts; and (d) develop informed stakeholder groups to increase commitment and accountability for air quality improvements. This includes capacity building in air monitoring, emissions inventory, modeling, source apportionment and control strategy development (w/ cost benefit analysis), as well as health benefits assessment.

Power Plant Emissions
This program builds on results of a 2004 Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) hosted workshop on air pollution monitoring and control from power plants, and a 2005 National Thermal Power Corporation hosted training course on EPA’s software tool used to assist power plants in optimizing performance of their electrostatic precipitators (ESP). The next phase will demonstrate the ESP optimization tool at a power plant to identify cost effective alternatives to reduce PM emissions, as well as evaluate co-benefit mercury emissions reductions, including training and transfer of stack emissions monitoring technology. EPA will also share expertise on cap-and-trade programs for reducing power plant emissions, and will provide consultative support to MoEF and CPCB as they develop NOx emission standards for power plants in India, as currently planned.

Indoor Air Pollution from Chulhas (cookstoves): This program supports the goals of the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air to address the increased environmental health risk faced by a majority of Indians who burn traditional biomass and coal indoors for cooking and heating, resulting in an estimated 400,000 premature deaths annually – primarily among women and children. Efforts are aimed at bringing together governments, non-governmental organizations, and industry to work on: improving the design and performance of cooking and heating technology; social awareness and marketing; business development; and monitoring indoor air pollution.

2. Water Quality Management (focus on urban drinking water quality)

Drinking Water Laboratory Strengthening
EPA will work with Indian partners and WHO India to strengthen capacity of drinking water quality laboratories for effective monitoring and surveillance. This project will produce an Indian drinking water laboratory operations and methods manual, and training on lab management and chemical and microbiological test methods.

Water Safety Plan Demonstration
This project will include cooperative work with Central, State, and municipal government, and with WHO in India, to demonstrate use of Water Safety Plans, a comprehensive risk assessment and management tool to enhance drinking water safety. The project seeks to address highest vulnerabilities in the drinking water system, and reduce water-borne disease through source water protection, a drinking water treatment plant optimization program, and improved distribution systems. A demonstration project is planned for Hyderabad starting in 2006.

3. Management of Toxic Chemicals and Hazardous Waste

Mercury Monitoring and Inventory
In addition to proposed government-industry mercury partnerships activities highlighted above, MoEF has requested cooperation with EPA and UNEP in strengthening and enhancing mercury estimation capability for scientists, technocrats and policy formulators in Indian regulatory agencies and environment departments.

Lindane Risk Reduction
EPA is sharing information and expertise with the Indian Ministry of Agriculture and MoEF/CPCB in support of their efforts to evaluate alternatives and risk reduction strategies to reduce releases and human exposure to lindane in the environment, in cooperation with the World Health Organization.

4. Environmental Governance

Improved Environmental Compliance and Enforcement
Environmental compliance and enforcement capacity building is a central focus of the EPA-MoEF MOU Environmental Governance agenda. EPA has provided several trainings and conducted an institutional evaluation on compliance and enforcement issues in India. A report identified numerous recommendations, and proposals exist to follow up in key areas, including (1) enhanced application of civil judicial enforcement authorities in India, and (2) application of industry self-monitoring and citizen monitoring, including sharing lessons learned through the newly launched Asia Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network.

Numerous additional U.S.-India bilateral climate change related activities are also being advanced under the auspices of a multi-agency U.S.-India Bilateral Dialogue on Climate Change.

Contacts: Sudhir Mital, Joint Secretary (International Cooperation), MoEF
(E-mail: Mital_sudhir@nic.in)
Ted MacDonald, India Program Manager, EPA Office of International Affairs
( E-mail: MacDonald.Ted@epa.gov)

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