Celebrating 25 Years of Binational Cooperation on the Improvement of Air Quality in Paso del Norte Region Airshed
DALLAS – (May 7, 2021) Today at a meeting of the Joint Advisory Committee for the Improvement of Air Quality in the Paso del Norte Air Basin (JAC), members marked the 25th anniversary of the binational group. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Mexico’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT, acronym in its Spanish form), established the JAC to support and protect air quality within the unique geographic area of El Paso Co., Texas; Doña Ana County, N.M; and the metropolitan area of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. The JAC’s work is based on a mission of “One Basin,” emphasizing collaboration and cooperation among three cities, three states, one federally recognized U.S. Tribe, and two countries.
“Since the Joint Advisory Committee was established 25 years ago, EPA and our local, state, Tribal, and international partners have collaborated to address air quality challenges facing the Paso del Norte Air Basin,” said Acting Regional Administrator David Gray. “EPA is proud to be part of this exceptional committee that has served as a model for binational cooperation and problem-solving.”
“The air knows no borders, and what we have learned in all these years of collaboration is that it is necessary to address the problem of air quality in a binational way, so for me it is also an honor to serve as Co-Chair of the JAC,” said Abel Arguelles, SEMARNAT’s General Director for Air Quality Managment and Pollutant Release and Transfer Register.
The 20-member JAC, comprised of government, business leaders, air quality experts, academics, environmentalists and public health officials, work together to develop a comprehensive framework to manage the common international airshed and improve air quality. Over the past 25 years, the JAC has served as a model for binational collaboration, problem-solving, and policy development.
During this time, the leadership of the JAC developed and implemented strategies to improve air quality in the region by reducing emissions of carbon monoxide, chemicals that contribute to the formation of ozone, and particulate matter. These strategies include: 1) reducing vehicle emissions by introducing oxygenated gasoline in Ciudad Juárez; 2) establishing dedicated commuter lanes at northbound international bridges to reduce vehicle idling; 3) introducing the use of cleaner-burning fuels for brick-making factories; 4) improving enforcement, surveillance and control of open burning; and 5) expediting privately owned and commercial trucks crossings at international ports of entry.
More recently, the JAC created a first-of-its-kind binational fund that will foster air quality projects throughout the region, first focusing on reestablishing air monitoring stations in Ciudad Juárez. The fund aims to bring a sustainable, long-term financial solution by giving not only public but private entities the opportunity to support the air quality network within the region. It will be managed by the North American Development Bank in coordination with two technical commissions who will serve to advise on the projects funded.
The JAC anniversary comes during Air Quality Awareness Week, when EPA and federal, state, tribal, and local partners celebrate progress and highlight the public health benefits of improved air quality. Learn more at https://www.airnow.gov/aqaw/
The Joint Advisory Committee for the Improvement of Air Quality in the Paso del Norte Air Basin was established through an unprecedented agreement, signed by the United States and Mexico, that amended the 1983 La Paz Agreement with the addition of Annex V under Appendix I. On May 7, 1996, the United States and Mexico signed the agreement that defined the bi-national Paso del Norte Air Basin and created the committee. It is comprised of a mixture of federal, state, and local government officials along with private citizens, university officials, and non-governmental organizations from the United States and Mexico.
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