STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE CAROL M. BROWNER
January 28, 1999
THE HONORABLE CAROL M. BROWNER
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
COMMITTEE ON FINANCE
UNITED STATES SENATE
January 28, 1999
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and other members of the Committee, for inviting me here to discuss this Administration's global environmental objectives, EPA's international mission and our role in defining the interface between trade and environment policies. I would like to take this opportunity to identify for the Committee the goals of our strong international program and the many ways we work to achieve those goals both within and outside the trade agenda. I hope to assist you in attaining an appreciation for EPA's interest in trade and environment issues and to make progress towards a common approach for developing a new consensus on these issues.
EPA's International Mission
EPA is a leader in the nation's efforts to protect and preserve public health and the vitality of natural ecosystems in this country. My Agency is committed to achieving these goals by reducing risks to human health and the environment, preventing pollution, and fostering environmentally sound and sustainable economic development in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
International cooperation is a key element in EPA's ability to achieve this mission. The United States faces significant challenges in protecting the health of its citizens and its natural resources from environmental hazards. In today's world, since pollution does not honor national boundaries, overcoming these challenges requires the cooperation of other countries. Some examples include:
- Cross-border air, water and waste pollution from Mexico, Canada and other areas affect the health, environment and well-being of American citizens living along borders as well as other areas of the United States.
- Improper use of chemicals abroad can affect the safety of food and other products imported into the United States.
- Health and environmental benefits resulting from the multi-billion dollar U.S. investment by industry under the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions of stratospheric ozone depleting compounds could be undermined by failure to control production or use of these chemicals in other countries, such as China, India or Russia.
- Pollution of the marine environment in the wider Caribbean region can damage U.S. fisheries and coral reefs and jeopardize tourism and other livelihoods.
- Pollution of the oceans and irreversible loss of species and habitat worldwide damage natural systems critical to our well-being and quality of life, and deprive us of commercially valuable and potentially life-saving genetic materials.
- The long-range transport of persistent organic pollutants like DDT, chlordane and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can adversely affect health and environment in the United States.
One of the major goals of EPA's Strategic Plan under the Government Performance and Results Act is aimed at reducing global risks that affect health and environment in the United States. EPA's efforts under this goal are grouped in five major areas: (1) protecting North American ecosystems, including marine and Arctic environments, (2) meeting U.S. commitments under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, (3) reducing stratospheric ozone depletion in conformance with U.S. commitments under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, (4) protecting public health and ecosystems from persistent organic pollutants that circulate at global and regional scales, and (5) strengthening environmental protection worldwide and achieving cleaner and more-effective environmental protection in the United States.
EPA's international environmental programs help protect the health and environment of American citizens. They enlist the cooperation of other nations in reducing transboundary and global environmental threats to the United States and reduce the cost of the nation's environmental protection. They also serve the nation's broad foreign policy, economic and national security interests.
Reducing Environmental Threats Along Our Borders
Over half of the U.S. population lives in the 19 States that form our borders with Mexico and Canada. Nowhere are the benefits of EPA's international programs more apparent than along our common borders with Mexico and Canada and in the Arctic and wider Caribbean region.
In 1993, this Administration concluded the U.S.-Mexico Border Environmental Cooperation Agreement, which created the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADBank). In addition, the Administration negotiated the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. These efforts have led to specific environmental gains in all three countries. NAFTA highlighted the problems unique to the U.S.-Mexico border and, as a result, Congress, border state legislators, federal and state agencies have devoted their efforts and resources to effectively resolving these problems in strong cooperation with Mexico without interfering with the trade agenda.
. The BECC and NADBank have been established to certify and fund environmental infrastructure projects. Fifteen BECC-certified projects, worth a combined $350 million and serving 3.5 million U.S. and Mexican citizens are now under construction or complete. The institutions, using their own and EPA resources, are developing additional projects for future construction.
. Since 1995, EPA has provided $425 million for border drinking water and wastewater infrastructure construction, as well as $200 million specifically for colonias water facilities.
. Border XXI, the binational border environment plan, brings together many federal, state, and local agencies on both sides of the border, as well as Tribal entities and non-government organizations to ensure cooperation to maximize resources and avoid duplicative efforts. In advancing the goal of sustainable development, Border XXI emphasizes public involvement in its development and implementation and works to build capacity and decentralize environmental management.
. The second phase of Border XXI includes efforts to address pressing health and natural resource needs. The addition of the Environmental Health, the Natural Resources, and the Environmental Information Resources Workgroups to the Border XXI Program resulted in the participation of Health and Human Services Department and the Department of Interior.
. The ten border states (U.S. and Mexico) are cooperating by developing state-to-state strategic plans to address the degradation of the border environment.
. Border XXI places an emphasis on measuring the progress of border environmental efforts which has resulted in a process to develop environmental indicators for the U.S.-Mexico border area. The first Indicators Report was released in July 1998.
. A binational joint advisory committee representing various sectors of the public was established to provide recommendations to the Air Workgroup on air pollution improvement efforts in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez-Doņa Ana County air basin.
. The United States has jointly developed an emissions inventory methodology with Mexico, which Mexico adopted. As a result, Mexico is now systematically developing compatible air pollution emission inventories all over the country, including cities along the border.
. Continuous air monitoring data is now being collected in three priority areas-El Paso-Juarez-Sunland Park, Imperial-Mexicali, and San Diego-Tijuana.
. The Good Neighbor Environmental Board and Region 1 of the Mexican National Advisory Council for Sustainable Development-the two national public advisory committees on U.S.-Mexico border issues-are working individually and jointly to develop recommendations on a number of sustainable development policy issues.
. Regional subgroups, such as the Environmental Enforcement and Compliance subgroups, are being established along the border to facilitate the cooperation of various entities working in the border area on specific projects. The regional subgroups also allow opportunities for the public to have input into environmental improvements.
. Fourteen sister city pairs along the border are developing joint contingency plans for chemical emergency response. To date, three pairs of sister cities have developed and signed binational joint plans and several others are preparing or finalizing their plans.
. Mexican and U.S. federal entities are cooperating in the area of environmental enforcement and compliance through the sharing of information and through training and technical and legal consultations on many aspects. In particular, voluntary environmental compliance, including environmental auditing and adoption of pollution prevention practices and technologies, is promoted by environmental agencies on both sides of the border.
. Many efforts have been made to expand availability of environmental information and to increase public participation in environmental decision making in the border area. Among these efforts is the creation of a bilingual Border XXI web site as a mechanism to increase public access to information.
Long-standing cooperation with Canada has resulted in corresponding environmental gains along our northern border. Benefitting from the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and other cooperative agreements, mercury levels in fish in Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie have dropped by more than 75 percent since 1970. Phosphorous loadings into Lake Erie decreased by more than 50 percent over the same time period, improving water quality and raising fish stocks. EPA and Environment Canada are working closely with public and private interests on both sides of the border to eliminate health and environmental risks from persistent organic pollutants in the Great Lakes.
U.S. and Canadian efforts to achieve the goals of the U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement resulted in reductions of sulfate wet deposition over eastern North America by over 20 percent of 1979 levels. U.S. and Canadian federal, British Columbia provincial and Washington state agencies are cooperating to achieve shared goals for the Puget Sound-Straits of Georgia Basin eco-region. Their top four priorities are minimizing habitat loss, protecting marine plants and animals, minimizing introduction of non-native species, and creating marine protected areas. Joint contingency planning with Mexico and Canada is helping prevent and ensure appropriate response capabilities for chemical accidents or other hazardous spills along inland borders.
Reducing Global and Regional Environmental Risk
Global threats have local effects since they can affect the health and well-being of every U.S. citizen. Depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer increases the amount of the sun's ultraviolet radiation reaching the earth's surface, thereby increasing risk of skin cancer, cataracts and suppression of human immune systems. Pollution of the oceans originating in other countries threatens health and environment along U.S. coasts. Similarly, the United States is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change caused by global greenhouse gas emissions. Even if we are able to reduce our emissions to 1990 levels (as called for in the Framework Convention on Climate Change), we believe there is a delayed effect from already accumulated emissions which will continue to effect global temperatures and result in rises in sea levels through the next century. Loss of biological diversity is damaging the health of ecosystems and depleting the world's commercially valuable and potentially life-saving genetic materials. The global ramifications of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl underscored U.S. vulnerability to the results of environmental mismanagement in other countries. Environmental problems like ozone depletion and water pollution also have adverse economic effects for industries like agriculture and fishing.
The Administration is committed to meeting the challenge of these global environmental problems, working at the global, multilateral, regional, and bilateral levels. EPA plays a role, in coordination with the Department of State, in negotiating certain global and regional environmental agreements. The Agency also, in accordance with its statutory authority, draws on its policy and technical expertise to implement international agreements and programs on global and regional environmental problems directly affecting the United States. The Agency was a leading policy and technical voice in the international negotiations on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. EPA was a key participant on the U.S. delegation to many technical working group meetings, and had lead responsibility for domestic implementation of the Protocol through the promulgation of regulations under the Clean Air Act. The Agency is also instrumental in carrying out U.S. responsibilities related to the provision of technical assistance to developing-country Parties to the Protocol. EPA is has a leading role in the inter-agency effort to reduce illegal exports and imports of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) through enforcement cooperation with other countries.
EPA also provides policy and technical leadership in international efforts to implement the Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as international agreements to prevent and reduce pollution of the marine environment from dumping, vessels and land-based sources. The recent agreement under the London Convention to ban the sea disposal of radioactive and industrial wastes, for example, helps protect U.S. coastal areas, fisheries and human health. Through U.S.G. activities like the U.S. Country Studies Program and the United States Initiative on Joint Implementation (USIJI), EPA assists developing countries in identifying innovative, cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing private sector investment in developing countries while enhancing environmental and human health benefits are goals of the USIJI, the Country Studies Program and related programs. These activities stimulate the development and diffusion of clean, energy-efficient technologies in developing countries, while lowering the cost of greenhouse gas reductions to the U.S. industry.
EPA has been a global leader in international efforts to control the long-range transport of persistent organic pollutants, such as DDT, chlordane and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The Agency recently helped secure international consensus on the need for a legally binding convention on these pollutants. Such a convention will enlist the cooperation of nations in limiting the production of chemicals long banned or restricted for use in the United States and whose continued use abroad poses a threat to health and environment in this country. EPA played a major role in international negotiations resulting in the adoption of the prior informed consent (PIC) agreement for the transboundary movement of certain toxic chemicals and pesticides.
Similarly, EPA has a key role on implementing the Global Programme of Action on Land-Based Sources of Marine Pollution adopted at the Washington Conference in 1995, and in negotiations on a Land-Based Marine Pollution Protocol under the Cartagena Convention for the Wider Caribbean Region. The development and implementation of effective controls on land-based sources of marine pollution such as outfalls and runoff will go far toward advancing important U.S. environmental and economic interests. Clean beaches and healthy coral reefs, for example, are very important to the tourist, fishing and recreation industries.
This Administration will continue efforts to improve regional environmental cooperation, and to build such cooperation arrangements in regions targeted for trade liberalization, such as APEC and the FTAA. In the Western Hemisphere, we are leaders in the follow up to the Miami Summit Action Plan and the 1996 Bolivia Sustainable Development Summit:
. In the area of biodiversity, USAID is initiating or expanding projects on environmental health and education, and on the Central American Biodiversity Corridor, a biodiversity Internet site (in cooperation with UNDP). In the energy sector, DOE has focused its resources on renewable energy, technology exchange and rural electrification.
. EPA and the Department of Justice are cooperating to develop a network of experts in environmental law and enforcement to explore strengthening laws and regulations in the hemisphere. EPA and Justice are also examining ways to address water issues -- both clean drinking water and waste water -- and land-based sources of marine pollution.
. NOAA, working under a cooperative agreement with USAID, is considering the establishment of a Marine Environment Center in the Caribbean Basin.
. Regarding transparency and enhancing the participation of civil society, with our leadership, the Bolivia Summit has mandated the OAS to develop an Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation in Sustainable Development Policy-making.
With respect to the Asia Pacific region, our leadership role on environmental issues will continue:
. The United States has taken the lead on implementing two of the sustainable development initiatives launched at the July 1996 APEC Environment Ministerial.
1) "clean production", whose goals are to reduce pollution in key industry sectors by promoting appropriate cleaner production technologies, policies and practices while also striving to achieve broader adoption of cleaner production technologies through institutional and professional partnerships; and
2) the marine environment, whose goals are to develop integrated approaches to coastal management, prevent, reduce and control marine pollution and manage marine resources in sustainable way. (The initiative is "sustainable cities").
. The United States is working to integrate environmental issues within the scope of other APEC working groups, e.g., the energy working group is looking at issues of energy efficiency and clean technology.
Elevating the Quality and Reducing the Cost of Environmental Protection in the United States
The United States is a world leader in environmental protection, with significant expertise residing in both the public and private sectors. Cooperative research and regulatory development enables the United States to share the costs of environmental protection efforts and to benefit from scientific and technological breakthroughs in other countries, thereby elevating the quality and reducing the cost of environmental protection in the United States.
Cooperative research with several countries, including Canada, Germany, Sweden, Japan, China, and India, has yielded valuable information to the United States at a fraction of the cost of collecting and analyzing the data here. In a cooperative study with China, for example, EPA was able to assess the loss of lung function in children due to their exposure to coarse and fine air-borne particulate matter. Joint testing with Germany on the development of thermal destruction techniques for hazardous waste saved the U.S. taxpayer millions of dollars and accelerated the U.S. domestic program in this area three to four years. Shared testing through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of over 700 high production volume chemicals greatly reduces the cost and administrative burden of chemical testing in the United States. OECD's long-standing Test Guidelines harmonization program for toxic chemicals data has been expanded to explicitly consider pesticides data, thereby leading to even greater resource savings for national regulatory agencies and industry as well as more consistent scientific and regulatory conclusions. Cooperation with the European Union is helping to enhance the effectiveness of ecolabeling as a market-based environmental policy tool.
EPA is also working with many developed countries in sharing environmental management expertise on new, non-regulatory mechanisms for protecting the environment. Other countries are extremely interested in our experience with voluntary, non-regulatory programs like the Common Sense Initiative, a multi-stakeholder approach to environmental protection. In addition, as EPA moves away from the medium-by-medium approach of the past toward a more integrated view of the environment, it can learn much from the experience of other countries that have already applied such techniques. Swedish and Dutch authorities, for example, have been implementing multi-media systems of environmental protection for many years. Similarly, experience in Germany and other countries in rehabilitating derelict industrial sites offers valuable lessons for the "Brownfields" program in the United States.
Serving Broader National Objectives
As emphasized by the General Accounting Office in its recent review of international environmental programs across the U.S. government, "EPA's international programs also serve important U.S. economic, foreign policy, and security interests." Working closely with other U.S. agencies, for example, EPA has actively supported regional cooperation under the auspices of the Middle East Peace Process Multilateral Working Group, including bringing together regional parties to cooperate on reducing risks from pesticides, small community wastewater, and preventing and responding to chemical accidents or oil spills.
The Agency's emphasis on community-based environmental management plays an important role in encouraging the development of more responsible, participatory decision-making in countries around the world. Reduced environmental problems can relieve pressures for illegal immigration, promote economic and political stability, and serve other national security interests.
EPA's Interest in Trade and Environment Issues
Export Credit Agencies
Our national programs dealing with trade and investment abroad should complement the effort to raise the environmental quality and sustainability of the multinational investments made by the U.S. taxpayer. At Congress' direction and with EPA technical support, the US Treasury Department has made sure that the lending and guarantee policies of the multilateral development banks assess and address the environmental and social impacts of the projects of their borrowers. This is good business, as well as sound policy, because sustainable growth ensures that the markets for US goods will be there not just tomorrow but also the day after tomorrow.
For the same reason, my agency has supported the development of minimum environmental standards by the US Export-Import bank and the effort to harmonize the environmental standards of our major trading partners upward. We can all be proud of these examples of global U.S. leadership. The process of dialogue has been slow, at times disappointingly so. The good news is that recent European elections appear to have brought greater receptivity from our friends and competitors to the idea that we should not compete at the expense of the environment.
Environmental Technology Export Promotion
Technical cooperation has played an important role in foreign policy initiatives in Latin America and with Mexico, China, India, Russia, and South Africa. EPA's technical assistance and training programs create demand -- and markets -- for environmental technologies and expertise, thereby enhancing commercial opportunities for U.S. business and industry and creating high-wage jobs for American citizens.
Senior private sector individuals and groups have recently reaffirmed the key role EPA's international technology and capacity-building programs play in creating commercial opportunities for U.S. suppliers of environmental technologies and expertise. In so doing, they have differentiated the export assistance (supply-side) role of the Department of Commerce, Export-Import Bank and other export promotion agencies from EPA's role in creating demand for U.S. technologies and expertise through the development of environmental standards, institutions and human resource capabilities. EPA's short-term technical assistance to the Royal Thai Government, for example, not only helped solve a pressing health and environmental problem in the Mae Moh Valley, it also led to the sale of almost $200 million for U.S.-made air pollution monitoring and control equipment.
In the Report which accompanied EPA's FY 1998 appropriations bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee urged EPA to "play a stronger role in enhancing opportunities for industry to export environmental technologies to other countries." It specifically directed the Agency to "develop a strategy to coordinate and promote the export of environmental technology and services and coordinate such activities with other Federal agencies." In response to this appropriations report, EPA this past October published a Report to Congress entitled "EPA Strategy For Promoting U.S. Environmental Exports." The Report noted that EPA's international initiatives help the U.S. environmental technology sector expand its export base and that EPA's export-enhancing activities can be grouped into five general categories:
Creating Demand for U.S. Technologies and Services: EPA's international training, technical assistance and other capacity building programs help to drive the demand for U.S. environmental goods and services. Joint funding for environmental training of foreign officials, for example, has helped strengthen environmental management capabilities worldwide while leading to over $150 million in sales for small and medium-sized companies in the United States.
Cooperation With Other Federal Agencies: EPA works with other Federal agencies and departments, such as Ex-Im Bank and DOC, to help match U.S. technology and service providers with opportunities which arise from our capacity-building programs. EPA also participates as a partner in AID's Asia Environmental Partnership and co-chairs, along with DOC, the Environmental Trade Working Group.
Cooperation With The U.S. Private Sector: EPA works both with intermediary organizations such as the National Association of State Development Agencies and directly with U.S. private sector firms to organize technology demonstrations in other countries, strengthen technology development and dissemination through programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research grants and the Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) programs, and to direct U.S. businesses toward specialized export assistance at local, state, federal and international levels.
Strong Environmental Standards: By encouraging the adoption of strong environmental standards at bilateral, regional and global levels, EPA helps to drive the demand for increasingly sophisticated environmental technologies.
Removing International Barriers to the Flow of Environmental Goods and Services: Through fora such as NAFTA, APEC and the WTO, EPA is working with its partner Federal agencies to reduce tariffs for environmental goods and services. We are also working with these other agencies to reduce non-tariff trade barriers.
EPA's reputation as the world's foremost national environmental agency has been a key element in the success of our international programs. Equally important, however, has been our reputation for honesty and objectivity. EPA is careful to stress that we do not endorse particular private sector firms or seek to promote certain goods or services. Our programs form a foundation upon which export promotion agencies such as DOC and programs such as the Asia Environmental Partnership may build. In essence, EPA helps to foster the rising global demand for environmental technologies; our partner agencies help U.S. business to fill the demand.
The Trade Institutions
In the 1999 State of the Union address, President Clinton said "we must ensure that ordinary citizens benefit from trade -- a trade that promotes the dignity of work, and the rights of workers, and protects the environment...[w]e have got to put a human face on the global economy." Our goal in seeking to ensure that trade negotiations support protection of the environment is to do just that -- put a human face on the global economy by ensuring that we continue to protect the health, safety and environment of our citizens.
EPA works extensively with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), particularly its Office of Environment and Natural Resources, to ensure that U.S. international trade policies are mutually supportive with environmental policies, reflecting the Administration's continuing commitment to sustainable economic growth with strong health and environmental standards. EPA is represented on the sub-cabinet Trade Policy Review Group (TPRG) and the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), coordinated by USTR and responsible for the development of U.S. international trade policy.
Through my Agency's participation in the negotiation of the NAFTA, the Uruguay Round Agreements Establishing the WTO and, most recently, the ongoing Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations, EPA has worked to ensure that U.S. obligations under international trade agreements do not hamper, but rather further, the ability of federal and state governments to maintain and enforce high levels of domestic environmental protection that we deem appropriate. The dispute settlement bodies of trade institutions should not be able to second-guess levels of protection that countries determine to be necessary to protect their citizens. President Clinton reiterated this goal at the WTO 50th Anniversary in May 1998 when he said "international trade rules must permit sovereign nations to exercise their right to set protective standards for health, safety and the environment and biodiversity".
As we approach the 1999 WTO Ministerial to be held in the United States in November, we have a platform in the greatest country on earth to inspire our trading partners to fulfill the President's call for ensuring that "we do more to make sure that this new economy lifts living standards around the world, and that spirited economic competition among nations never becomes a race to the bottom in environmental protections...we should level up, not down." WTO rules should be consistent with leveling environmental, health, or safety standards upwards, i.e., towards more protective standards.
International harmonization of good laboratory practices, test guidelines and mutual acceptance of data for industrial chemicals and pesticides means more efficient data development by industry and greater assurance of the quality of data EPA uses in determining acceptable use of these products. The mutual acceptance of data for risk assessment purposes must now be expanded beyond countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to include emerging markets in Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. EPA's efforts to promote the "leveling up" of health and environmental standards improves health and environmental conditions, and also protect U.S. business who already must comply with high domestic standards, while respecting its international obligations.
There are other ways to maintain the high levels of health and environmental protection in the United States and to share these levels with other nations. The first is to maintain our right to deny entry of products that do not meet our health and environmental standards. In order to adequately protect the health of American citizens, we must maintain our right to prohibit entry of products -- particularly food products -- that do not meet our standards. Certain products (e.g., pesticides, foods with pesticide residues) must be approved before they can be marketed. Consistent with our statutory obligations (e.g., FIFRA, TSCA, FFDCA), the United States will continue to prohibit the entry or use of these products unless the exporting country/producer provides information that the product meets our health, safety or environmental requirements.
EPA also tries to achieve its goal through its international programs on safe pesticide use, which help to improve the quality of the U.S. food supply. Many off-season fruit and vegetables are imported from developing countries whose health and environmental inspection and regulatory systems are considerably less stringent than those in the United States. By working with foreign health and environmental protection agencies and agricultural producers, EPA is able to promote safer pesticide use and food production practices in countries producing a significant amount of export crops for the U.S. market. Since 1991, for example, EPA has provided technical assistance on pesticide management to many countries in Central America. Much of the produce grown in Central America is intended for the U.S. market.
North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation
As you are probably aware, I represent the United States, in consultation with the other federal agencies, on the Council of the CEC. To date, the CEC has focused its cooperative work program on environmental issues important to the North American region. This cooperative work program has been very successful in creating dialogue among our nations, fostering the exchange of information, and causing the development of cooperative plans of action on many issues. Last year, my counterparts and I began the development of a more comprehensive trade and environment program in the CEC intended to build on our project looking at the environmental effects of the NAFTA, increase our understanding of our trade and environment issues generally, and specifically work with civil society to find useful solutions.
The U.S. and its NAFTA partners have determined that some transboundary environmental issues related to Mexico and Canada are better addressed on a regional scale through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), which was established under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, rather than bilaterally. For instance, the three parties have developed regional actions plans for the elimination or sound management of DDT, mercury, PCBs and chlordane, and are negotiating procedures to notify and assess transboundary environmental impacts of significant federal actions. They are also considering a conservation strategy for North American migratory songbirds. The CEC has facilitated cooperation among the North American nations on several other issues such as environmental enforcement; development of a North American pollutant release inventory; regional greenhouse gas emissions trading; and regional implementation of global environmental agreements.
The positive focus on the cooperative work program may have diminished the need for the Part V dispute settlement mechanism, which could eventually lead to revocation of NAFTA benefits. In fact, no country has raised an issue under Part V and to our knowledge, no government has been subject to public pressure to do so. The Article 14 citizen's submission process, on the other hand, has been used many times by NGOs in all three countries and is quite successful. The ultimate outcome of this process, if the CEC Secretariat decides to take it to completion for any submission, is a factual record on an assertion that one government has failed to effectively enforce its domestic environmental law. Thus, the process enables citizens to question the environmental enforcement actions of any government in North America and to get an answer to those questions.
This leads me to what I find to be one of the most useful aspects of the NAFTA side agreement: the commitment of the three governments to effectively enforce their existing domestic environmental laws. I believe the NAFTA environmental review process was critical to assessing the environmental regimes of our trading partners early in the trade negotiations. This review enabled us to enter into the NAFTA with a better understanding of what the environmental repercussions of that agreement were, without imposing any of our own standards abroad.
The United States is committed both to ensuring that the trade agreements we negotiate are consistent with our environmental objectives, and to ensuring that Congress and the public are informed about the possible impact of such agreements on the environment. At the beginning of the NAFTA negotiations, the Administration issued a study evaluating potential environmental effects of a trilateral free trade agreement. At the conclusion of both the NAFTA and the Uruguay Round negotiations, the Administration issued a reports describing how environmental issues had been addressed in the agreements, and outlining the potential environmental implications of those agreements.
As the United States has entered into negotiations on new trade agreements, we have sought to include mechanisms for considering the environmental implications of those agreements. For instance, as part of the US-E.U. Transatlantic Economic Partnership initiative (TEP), we are creating an Environment Working Group that has been tasked, inter alia, with informing trade negotiators of the potential impact of other TEP negotiations on health, safety, and environmental interests. In addition, we have been working with the Secretariat of the NAFTA Commission on Environmental Cooperation on a methodology to identify the environmental effects of trade liberalization.
Multilaterally, in the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE), the United States has shared our positive experience with the NAFTA and the Uruguay Round reviews and pressed for agreement in the WTO/CTE that governments should review the environmental implications of trade agreements. With your support, EPA stands ready to offer appropriate technical cooperation and assistance to help partners strengthen their environmental regimes.
Transparency and Public Participation
Finally, the CEC demonstrates the value of public participation to other international institutions. President Clinton, in his May speech at the WTO, proposed that the WTO "provide a forum where business, labour, environmental and consumer groups can speak out and help guide further evolution of the WTO." In my experience, an openness to the public benefits international decision-making. At each of the annual CEC Council sessions, my Canadian and Mexican counterparts and I spend a few hours in an open meeting with the public to hear their concerns and ideas regarding the implementation of the NAFTA side agreement so that our decisions are informed by public comment. Each CEC Party has established National Advisory Committees so that each delegation stays in touch with its own public. The Joint Public Advisory Committee, a senior level group that advises all three governments, is actually one arm of the CEC itself. When appropriate, representatives of the advisory committees have been invited into the Council sessions. These types of public participation efforts are useful and should be models for other institutions.
It is my hope that the WTO ministerial to be held on American soil can promote transparency and public participation in a future WTO round of negotiations. The President has called for an opening of the process at the WTO. He specifically asks that "hearings by the WTO be open to the public, and all briefs by the parties be made publicly available,... that the WTO provide the opportunity for stakeholders to convey their views, such as the ability to file amicus briefs." I look forward to a high-level meeting that brings together the trade and environment ministers in order to provide strong direction on these and other issues important to the environment in the WTO and comparable fora.
Let me close by saying that I believe the trade and environment issue needs to be addressed on a dual track: we need to tear down barriers, open markets and expand trade, but at the same time we need to make parallel progress on environmental protection. EPA's international program, as described above, aims to achieve this parallel progress through technical assistance, environmental technology export promotion and international cooperation. I appreciate your continued support for these efforts. Thank you for holding these timely hearings on this very important issue.