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National Perspectives on Managing Transboundary Environmental Hazards: The U.S.-Mexico Border Region

Stephen P. Mumme, Joseph Nalven


The management of environmental hazards in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands presents a unique challenge. Two very dissimilar economic, social, and political communities are set along side one another, forming a dynamic region defined by cultural pluralism, migration and rapid growth. At the same time, marked differences in economic resources, administrative and political resources, and social values complicate the task of managing the border environment.

Environmental hazards in the borderlands range across a wide issue spectrum, including contamination of air and water resources as well as the problem of hazardous wastes. Each of these issues requires binational cooperation in the form of planning, management, and ameliorative action. Neither country is capable of maintaining a sound environment acting strictly within its domestic jurisdiction. The difficulty entailed in monitoring, regulating, and eliminating threats to habitation and the physical environment demands a continuous and coordinative process. This would include participation in international treaties and agreements to routine cooperation among domestic agencies of each nation in gathering and disseminating information as well as implementing solutions to identified hazards in the border arca.

Both the United States and Mexico have acknowledged their commitment to environmental protection, both nationally and with respect to the shared border region. Despite this base, however, disparities in development, resources, and administration hamper cooperative endeavors in dealing with a broad set of issues on the borderlands' environmental agenda.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229