Canada and U.S. Enhance Air Quality Cooperation

WASHINGTON, DC, January 6, 2003 (ENS) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman, along with Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson, announced today a commitment by the two countries to build on the transborder air quality improvements of the last decade by beginning to develop new cooperative projects for the future.

Officials in both the United States and Canada now have been formally charged with the task of developing joint air quality pilot projects. The two countries have been formally cooperating on the issue since the signing of the 1991 United States-Canada Air Quality Agreement.

Starting today, U.S. government agencies, led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will work with the Canadian government to identify pilot projects in consultation with stakeholders such as states, provinces and local governments. A report on potential projects will be completed by April.


U.S. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman (Photo courtesy EPA)
"This agreement continues to build on a strong history of cooperation between the United States and Canada to achieve better air quality for all of our citizens," said Whitman. "Our partnership will serve as a platform to encourage continued innovation in border air quality management."

"We want to start work soon because the health benefits from cleaner air will only come through cooperation and action among governments, business and individuals in both countries," Anderson said.


Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson (Photo courtesy Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
"This initiative is early action on Canada's Speech from the Throne commitment to work with the United States to further improve air quality and work for a healthy environment so as to protect the health of Canadians, the quality of our life and our continued economic prosperity," said Anderson.

While efforts to protect air quality along the U.S./Canada border are in process, the two governments said the new pilot projects should "reflect emphasis on sustainable development through partnerships, and recognition of the long history of air quality cooperation under the Canada/U.S. Air Quality Agreement."

The two countries will re-emphasize the importance of coordinated border airshed management. The cooperative pilot projects will be based on understanding that transboundary movement of air pollutants affect human health and natural resources of environmental, cultural, and economic importance, the two officials said.

In the two years since the last U.S.-Canada Air Quality Progress Report was issued, both governments have had continued success in reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the major contributors of acid rain, according to the latest assessment issued in November 2002.

The 2002 U.S.-Canada Air Quality Progress Report focuses on acid rain, ozone and other transboundary air quality cooperation as part of the U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement.


Chicago incinerator emits pollutants near the Canadian border. (Photo courtesy EPA)
The 2002 report is the first to address new requirements and reporting of air quality data under the Ozone Annex to the Agreement signed by both governments in December 2000. It also details joint efforts on transboundary particulate matter analysis, and is the first to provide ambient air quality data for ozone, NOx and hydrocarbons for all sites within 500 kilometers (300 miles) of the U.S.-Canada border.

In its second five year comprehensive review of the Air Quality Agreement, aimed at assessing its effectiveness, the report concludes that the United States and Canada continue to successfully fulfill the obligations of the Agreement, but that work remains to be done.

Sulfur dioxide emissions from all affected utility units in 2001 achieved about a 32 percent reduction from 1990 emissions levels and a five percent reduction from 2000 levels.

Nitrogen oxide emissions from all utilities in 2001 also continued a downward trend achieving a 30 percent decline from 1990 emissions levels and an eight percent reduction from 2000 emissions.

The report also cites analysis of a national long term wet deposition network known as the National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network, which shows continued reductions in sulfate deposition, up to 30 percent less over the past decade.

Copies of the report, "United States-Canada Air Quality Agreement 2002 Progress Report" are available at:

The U.S. and Mexico have unveiled a similar agreement to address transboundary air pollution along their border. This initiative was announced on November 26, 2002, at the annual Binational Commission Conference which took place in Mexico City, Mexico.