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Environmental Issues in the United States-Mexico Borderlands

C. Richard Bath


Environmental issues, while often important in the history of United States-Mexico relations, have become, in recent years, a major factor in the relations between the two countries. One reason is that until very recently environmental issues simply were not perceived to be major problems in either country. Certainly since 1970 they have become important political issues on the public agenda of both countries. Major interest groups and governmental agencies are actively concerned with the environment and public policy to improve it. A second reason is that with the exception of the Colorado River salinity issue and the Chamizal dispute as well as some localized phenomena, environmental problems have become major ones only in the last few years in the borderlands region. In turn, a major reason for both public concern and for threats to the environment is the rapid rate of population increase in the borderlands. The border population has literally exploded in the last two decades and that means it carries far more political weight in both political systems and that the burgeoning cities along the border have become the centers of increasing environmental degradation. A review of these environmental issues in the borderlands will start with a general framework for the analysis of U.S.-Mexico relations, then a brief discussion of the major issues and, finally, recent developments which appear to indicate that there is an emerging binational political framework which could lead to a better environment for borderlands residents.

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