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Crossborder Activities

Transboundary Air Quality
Introduction Air QualityAir Pollutants EmissionsResearchCrossborder Collaboration Crossborder ActivitiesInternational Air ProgramsEPA Region 10

Formal interagency agreements have facilitated collaboration between agencies in Canada and the United States regarding air quality and other environmental issues in the PSGB region.

The combined unilateral and partnered efforts of the federal, state, provincial, and regional air quality management agencies in the PSGB led to air emissions reductions in the 1980s and 1990s. These efforts emphasized emission reduction programs for industrial operations, commercial sources, and motor vehicles and resulted in air quality improvements throughout this transboundary airshed.

Mount Rainier at sunsetSince the 1990s these interactions have been formalized in different agreements, statements of cooperation, and statements of intent. The GB-PS International Airshed Strategy process began in 2001. The catalysts for this process included:

  • possible health effects at air quality levels currently measured in the PSGB
  • mounting public concern over the potential impacts of air emissions from proposed new energy developments on both sides of the border
  • indications that projected regional growth in population, economic activity and motor vehicle use could result in increased air pollution in future years

A United States-Canada air quality planning workshop was held at Bellingham, Washington in February 2001 to discuss these issues. Representatives of Environment Canada, the US EPA, state, provincial, and local governments, air quality management agencies, and First Nations and Tribes attending this workshop agreed that clean air was a priority.

Participants recognized that a collaborative transboundary air quality planning process would:

  • strengthen information sharing on best air management practices
  • offer a collaborative opportunity to characterize the international airshed
  • facilitate and explore improved processes for the review of new emission sources near the US-Canada border (within the context of the US-Canada Air Quality Agreement)
  • enable the development of joint project partnerships to reduce emissions

A second international air quality meeting was held in Tsawwassen, BC in May 2001. At this meeting, participants agreed to identify clean air issues and challenges in the region. They also committed to taking part in international airshed planning that focused on using cooperation to achieve air quality management and reduction of emissions.

In 2005 partner agencies completed the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy (PDF, 13 pp., 288KB). This document describes the purpose, operating principles and goals for ongoing collaborative work to address air quality concerns in the PSGB airshed.

The Emission Reduction Initiatives are collaborative projects that address environmental issues of interest to communities, businesses, organizations, and government representatives on both sides of the US/Canada border.

For additional information on five sectors that partners have recognized in their efforts to reduce emissions, visit the links below.

West Seattle skyEmission sources of international importance

  • Agriculture Emissions
  • Marine Vessel and Port Emissions
  • Vehicle and Fuel Emissions
  • Residential Wood Heating Emissions
  • Notification of Major New Sources

Additional initiatives to increase understanding and communication of airshed issues

  • Transboundary Science and Data Initiative: Policy recommendations of the GB-PS International Airshed Strategy must be based upon sound science to be credible. This initiative will ensure that science is conducted efficiently and transparently, resulting in a common understanding of the issues.
  • Communications and Outreach Initiative: Agencies participating in the International Airshed Strategy can learn from the communications and outreach experiences of other agencies and leverage messages to more efficiently and effectively reach out to the public and other stakeholders.


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