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U.S. EPA, Mexico, announce air quality environmental successes at Tijuana conference

Release Date: 10/19/2005
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, (213) 244-1815

Mexico to use low-sulfur diesel along border; diesel emission reductions agreement to be signed

LOS ANGELES - Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SEMARNAT, Mexico's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources met October 19 in Tijuana, Mexico, to announce significant policy changes that will improve the air quality for 12 million residents along the U.S. - Mexico border.

U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri joined Secretary Jose Luis Luege Tamargo of Mexico's environmental agency SEMARNAT to announce Mexico's plan to aggressively reduce sulfur levels in gasoline and diesel fuel beginning in 2006. Mexico is further exploring accelerated introduction of these cleaner fuels in key areas of the country including the US-Mexico border.

This announcement is the most important achievement in meeting the environment agenda developed under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America signed on March 23, 2005 by President Bush, President Fox of Mexico, and Prime Minister Martin of Canada. The SPP is an effort to address the threat of terrorism and to enhance the security, competitiveness and quality of life in North America.

"President Bush's commitment to making that black puff of diesel smoke from trucks, buses and machinery a thing of the past has helped make America's air the cleanest it has been in three decades," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Air pollution knows no borders, and Mexico is taking a great step by joining the U.S. in efforts to improve air quality - helping to protect our shared environment and the health of millions of families throughout the Border region."

"Improving air quality in our border region is a priority for the EPA," said Wayne Nastri, Regional Administrator of the EPA. "Through Mexico's participation in the West Coast Collaborative effort we are able to share information, technology and resources to continue making clean air progress."

Regional Administrator Nastri and Secretary Luege also signed a Letter of Intent for Cooperation on Diesel Emission Reduction. Under Border 2012's San Diego/Tijuana Clean Diesel Demonstration Project, diesel trucks are now being retrofitted with diesel oxidation catalysts or particulate filters. The retrofitted trucks used in combination with ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel will substantially reduce pollution from heavy-duty trucks based in the Tijuana area. Three trucks had retrofits installed in September, 2005 and 40 more trucks will be retrofitted by the fall of 2006.

"Cal/EPA applauds Mexico and the U.S. EPA for recognizing the importance of our shared air basins. This collaborative partnership to improve air quality through innovative methods, such as introducing low sulfur diesel in the border region, is the result of a strong commitment at the three levels of government," said Alan C. Lloyd, Agency Secretary, Cal/EPA.

"Mexico's commitment to produce low sulfur diesel fuels in the future is important to help improve air quality along the Arizona-Mexico border and protect the health of children and families in border communities in both the U.S. and Mexico," said Steve Owens, Director, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

The EPA has regulated highway diesel fuel quality since 1993; in a move to improve US air quality the EPA recently established low sulfur requirements in diesel fuel starting in 2006.

Emissions from diesel engines especially the microscopic soot know as "particulate matter" -create serious health problems, especially for children and the elderly. Diesel exhaust contributes to elevated levels of smog and particulate matter pollution.

In August, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson announced $1.4 million in diesel grants which will help leverage over $5.8 million in matching funds to curb diesel pollution as part of the West Coast Collaborative effort and the National Clean Diesel Campaign. The West Coast Collaborative is a partnership between leaders from federal, state and local government, private sector and environmental groups in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Alaska, Idaho, Canada and Mexico.

In addition to the diesel announcements, at today's event the following Border 2012 announcements were made for the Baja region: a new website was launched for Baja California allowing public access to real time air quality data from 13 monitors in the border region; EPA funding up to $6.5 million for five new water and wastewater projects in Baja ; and the clean up 1.7 million abandoned tires in Baja by the end of this year.

The EPA's Border 2012 is a 10 year, results-oriented environmental program, which emphasizes measurable results, public participation, and timely access to environmental information. The program has 6 environmental goals addressing air and water quality, reducing land contamination, emergency preparedness for accidental chemical spills and releases and promotes environmental stewardship.

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