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Three joint projects have been announced under the Canada-United States Border Air Quality Strategy:
The two airshed pilots will explore the human health effects of air pollution, and the serious concerns about air quality expressed by Canadians and Americans living in these border regions. Joint airshed strategies and management measures to improve air quality will be explored under both projects. The airshed projects will also include health studies, atmospheric science tools and science assessments, and targeted public outreach.
The Canada-United States Border Air Quality Strategy reflects a continued cooperative effort to reduce air pollution in North America, and builds upon previous agreements under the Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement. The 1991 agreement led to reductions in acid rain in the 1990s, and was expanded in 2000 to reduce transboundary smog emissions under the Ozone Annex.
In Ontario and Michigan, air quality is influenced both by domestic and transboundary sources. The Great Lakes Basin has a high concentration of local industrial and municipal point sources, commercial and residential area sources, and transportation sources that contribute to both domestic and transboundary air quality issues on both sides of the border.
A key element of the Great Lakes Basin pilot will be to move toward a regional airshed management approach, beginning in the Southeast Michigan/Southwest Ontario Region. This will be done in consultation with the province of Ontario, the Great Lakes states and other stakeholders.
The Great Lakes Basin Airshed Management Framework will benefit border residents in Canada and the United States by enhancing information exchange. It will also examine the feasibility of establishing a joint airshed management approach identifying opportunities, challenges and obstacles to that approach. Scientific results from ongoing and planned efforts to characterize air quality and human health issues in the Great Lakes Basin will be shared. Such exchanges will assist in finding opportunities for early actions that lead to improved air quality.
Citizens will be consulted on both sides of the border through workshops and meetings to ensure that local communities are engaged in the design pilot projects. Web-based systems will be introduced to provide air quality information to a wide range of clients, including members of the public, decision makers and private sector interests.
Just as we share a common border, Canada and the United States also share airsheds in many regions, including the area that encompasses British Columbia's Georgia Basin and Washington's Puget Sound. While emissions of common air pollutants have been reduced in these airsheds since 1985, important challenges remain that could have a significant impact on air quality and human health. Air pollution can also have a dramatic effect on important economic activities, such as tourism which may be at risk of losing millions of dollars in revenues due to poor visibility in our nations, scenic areas.
Canada and the United States have been working together on the International Georgia Basin-Puget Sound transboundary airshed strategy since 2001. The pilot project will build on the existing initiative with a focus on air quality and human health characterization and assessment. It will include a study of future air pollution issues and problems, and the development and implementation of an international airshed strategy for collaborative action to reduce emissions and improve ambient air quality. The strategy will focus on meeting relevant air quality goals and standards on a long-term and sustainable basis.
Specific activities to be addressed include developing a common strategy and implementation plan for early introduction of cleaner fuels and engine retrofits that emphasize reductions in fine particulate matter and toxics emissions from diesel fuel. Canada and the United States will also work with partner agencies to address emissions from marine vessels on the west coast of North America.
The project will seek to improve the exchange of air quality information between partner agencies, stakeholders and the general public. It will ensure that public and stakeholder issues and concerns are considered in the policy planning and decision making process.
Canada and the United States are undertaking a study examining the feasibility of emissions trading for sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), two key air pollutants that contribute to smog and acid rain. This new project will build on the commitment made under the Ozone Annex to the 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement (www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/can_us/canus_links_e.cfm and www.epa.gov/airmarkets/usca/index.html), signed in 2000, to explore emissions trading.
The project will study important infrastructure elements of cap and trade programs including issues such as legal design, emissions measurement, monitoring, reporting and tracking, compliance and enforcement and public availability of information.