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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Toward a More Perfect Union: Transboundary Pollution Abatement Strategies for the Paso del Norte Airbasin

The Paso del Norte border region encompasses a binational and tri-state area which consists of three cities: El Paso, Texas; Sunland Park, New Mexico; and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. During the past several decades, the region has undergone substantial growth in population and industry. These factors have created socioeconomic conditions which, combined with the local geographic characteristics, have resulted in the worst air quality of any border cities along the 2,000 miles of U.S.-Mexico border. While residents of the airbasin suffer from health problems related to the air pollution and local industry faces government-imposed limitations to growth, air quality governance measures fail to address transboundary challenges.

It is impossible to regulate air quality in any of these cities in absence of the others because they share a common airbasin in which air currents travel without regard to political boundaries. Nevetheless, traditional air pollution governance in the region has consisted of unilateral efforts lacking in cross-border cooperation, resulting in an inefficient and ineffective use of limited resourses. In recent years, local stakeholders have succeeded in bringing both of the federal governments to acknowledge the joint management needs of the airbasin.

This report explores three cooperative pollution abatement strategies that could help improve air quality in a manner that is consistent with needs of this binational community. These strategies are: an International Supplement Environmental Project framework, a Binational Clean Air Investment Fund, and a Transboundary Emissions Credit Reduction Market.

-- Author's foreword.