A new report from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lays out ongoing environmental initiatives and actions along the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border. Published in both English and Spanish, the report highlights some of the recent steps taken in meeting the goals of the Border 2012 Program, the centerpiece collaboration effort between the US and Mexico on the environmental front.
As the EPA report portrays, numerous actors are working to protect and improve the fragile border environment, including citizen groups, universities, government agencies and indigenous communities in the US and Mexico. For instance, the report updates the celebration of River Day, an annual, binational event that involves Mexican and US citizens in different activities dedicated to the health and preservation of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo.
According to the EPA, 2010 River Day attracted 800 volunteers just in Laredo, Texas, where people participated in a river clean-up and restoration of the local Rio Grande ecosystem. Up and down the border region, approximately 25,000 people participated in last year’s River Day events, the EPA reported. To keep River Day and related issues in the public spotlight, organizers have formed the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Basin Alliance.
Other Border 2012 initiatives include mitigating greenhouse gases, reducing diesel emissions, recycling electronic waste, controlling mosquitoes, implementing toxic emergency response and collecting old pesticides, among others.
In the Paso del Norte border region of El Paso-Ciudad Juarez-southern New Mexico, Border 2012 has financially supported environmental and food safety education in three low-income Ciudad Juarez neighborhoods, and has provided more than $50,000 in funding to the University of Texas at El Paso’s civil engineering department for studies on curbing air pollution from the constantly clogged Bridge of the Americas that connects El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.
The EPA estimated that an annual average of 600,000 commercial and 10 million private vehicles cross the Bridge of the Americas, spewing a variety of air contaminants as they wait in long lines to cross the border.
In southern New Mexico, Border 2012 is helping finance an unusual campaign spearheaded by the Ben Archer Health Center. Led by trained health promoters, the project aims to teach home safety in 500 low-income households in Luna, Dona Ana, Sierra and Otero counties.
In home visits, the promoters teach residents about securely storing chemical substances, safely enclosing medicines and properly storing pesticides. The project came after a study revealed that New Mexico ranks highest in the US in terms of deaths from domestic injuries, at the rate of 13.03 victims per 100,000 people.
Spanish and English versions of the EPA’s new Border 2012 report can be accessed and read at the following website:
Frontera NorteSur is made possible in part by a grant from the McCune Charitable Foundation