U.S.-Mexico Border Governors Strategize to Green Their Economies

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 3:18 PM PDT
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U.S.-Mexico Border Governors Strategize to Green Their Economies

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HOLLYWOOD, California, August 14, 2008 (ENS) - At the opening of the annual U.S.-Mexico Border Governors Conference Thursday at Universal Studios in Hollywood, host California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he felt right at home.

"I actually started my movie career right here at Universal Studios," he told his nine fellow governors. "It was Universal Studios that started the Conan the Barbarian movie." The 1982 movie is recognized as the acting breakthrough of then bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian immigrant.

As host of the Border Governors Conference, Schwarzenegger used his keynote speech to expound on the theme of this year's conference, Building Green Economies.

To help fight global warming, he pointed out, the Mexican border states have joined the Western Climate Initiative. They hold status as observers and so are not bound by the goal set by the WCI in August 2007 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its 11 member states in the west and in Canadian provinces that now extend as far east as Quebec.

In Hollywood today, Mexico's top environmental official Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, who heads the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources, proposed the creation of state climate change plans to deal with the environmental impacts of global warming in a coordinated way.

He said the environmental agreement that Mexico signed recently with the state of California could be applied all along the border strip.

It would include greenhouse gas emissions inventories at the local, state and regional levels, and, said the Mexican secretary, the states south of the border could adopt California's low-carbon air quality standard.

In addition, he suggested the establishment of 15 crossborder pollution control districts and also proposed building desalination plants in coastal areas to ensure drinking water supplies for the arid region.

The California governor praised his colleagues for their work with the federal governments to tackle the problem of millions of abandoned scrap tires that pose a public health and environmental risk, "and we have begun discussions on managing water resources during drought conditions," said Schwarzenegger.

"You see, these are important breakthroughs and they build on our history of friendship and accomplishment," he said.

The 10 border states - Arizona, Baja California, California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, New Mexico, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Texas - together exercise an economy that ranks third in the world for size.

Schwarzenegger praised his fellow governors for helping to create the Border 2012 program, a collaboration between the United States and Mexico to improve the environment and protect the health of the nearly 12 million people living along the border.

The bi-national program focuses on emergency preparedness, cleaning the air, providing safe drinking water, reducing the risk of exposure to hazardous waste, and addressing environmental health issues such as farm workers' exposure to pesticides.

The conference ends Friday, but cooperation will continue. The United States and Mexico have been cooperating on a broad range of environmental issues since 1983.

"Now, our work is complicated, it's never-ending and it requires constant coordination and collaboration," said Swarzenegger. "But this organization has shown time and time again that it is ready to rise to any challenge."

{Photo: Polluted stream rimmed with piles of discarded tires at a border town near San Diego. Photo courtesy San Diego Indymedia}

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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