Regulatory Brief

 Draft Framework for the U.S. - Mexico Environmental Program: Border 2020 (November 2011)

Formal title: Docket Number [FRL-9466-2] Notice of Availability of the Draft Framework for the U.S. - Mexico Environmental Program: Border 2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting comments from interested parties and border stakeholders. The EPA and the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Mexico's Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources SEMARNAT) announced the availability of the draft document, "Border 2020: U.S. – Mexico Environmental Program." Border 2020 is an eight-year, bi-national, results-oriented, environmental program for the U.S.-Mexico border region, which has been developed by the EPA and SEMARNAT, the 26 U.S. border tribes, the indigenous communities of Mexico, and the environmental agencies from each of the ten U.S.-Mexico border states.

Brief Description:

The proposed Border 2020 program is the latest multi-year, bi-national planning effort to be implemented under the La Pas Agreement and succeeds Border 2012, a ten-year program that will end in 2012. The mission of Border 2020 is "to protect public health and the environment in the U.S.-Mexico border region, consistent with the principles of sustainable development." For decades, the U.S. and Mexico have collaborated on efforts to protect the environment and health of border communities.

Border 2020 establishes the following six environmental goals for the U.S.-Mexico border region:

  • Goal 1 – Reduce Conventional Air Pollutant and GHG Emissions
  • Goal 2 – Improve Water Quality and Water Infrastructure Sustainability and Reduce Exposure to Contaminated Water
  • Goal 3 – Materials Management and Clean Sites
  • Goal 4 – Improve Environmental and Public health through Chemical Safety
  • Goal 5 – Enhance Joint Preparedness for Environmental Response
  • Goal 6 – Improve Environmental Management through Compliance and Enforcement, Pollution Prevention, and Promotion of Responsible Environmental Management

As a companion to the six strategic goals, which outline anticipated results hoped to be achieved by the Border 2020 program in the next eight years, the following five fundamental principles provide the expectation for how those involved will approach and consider complex and critical challenges faced by border communities. The principles are: climate change; disadvantaged and underserved communities; children's health; environmental education; and strengthening State, Tribal, and International partnerships.

AVMA Response:

Over all, the AVMA perceives the Program as an ambitious and vitally needed collaborative transboundary and cross-cultural environmental improvement and safeguarding effort, which will in turn enhance environmental, animal, and public health. The convergence of people, animals, and our environment has intensified the dynamic in which the health of each group is inextricably interconnected. Today's challenges associated with this dynamic are demanding, profound, and in some cases, unprecedented.

The AVMA agrees with the principles of the Border 2020; however, AVMA urges the EPA to include animal health (the third and final component of the One Health triad) to better ensure an effective and successful Program. To help accomplish the needed incorporation of relevant animal health issues and interactions with the environmental and public health aspects of the Program, the AVMA recommends that each of the Regional Workgroups have on its roster at least one veterinarian with expertise in environmental health, toxicology, ecology, or public health. Similarly, it is recommended that each Task Force involve veterinary expertise such as a State livestock or wildlife veterinarian. Furthermore, the Program describes providing outreach and education to the human healthcare sector as well as to farmers and others regarding chemically induced illnesses and potential environmental contaminants. The AVMA suggests that a similar outreach and education effort be directed toward the veterinary community and animal owners in the areas addressed by the Program.

Background Documents:

November 21, 2011 Full AVMA Response (PDF)

September 19, 2011; Federal Register Notice (PDF)

Border 2020: U.S. – Mexico Environmental Program; draft document (PDF)