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May 2, 2008

IJC releases two reports on Canada-United States transboundary air quality

The International Joint Commission today released two reports dealing with transboundary air quality: (a) Synthesis of Public Comment on the 2006 Progress Report under the Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement and (b) Second Summary of Critical Air Quality Issues in the Transboundary Region. The former was produced by the Commission pursuant to its responsibilities under Article IX of the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement and the latter was developed by the Commission's International Air Quality Advisory Board.

In providing comments on the 2006 Air Progress Report, nearly all respondents expressed strong support for the Air Quality Agreement and its success in fostering binational cooperation on pollution control, monitoring, research and information exchange. Overall, respondents were satisfied that substantial progress has been made by both countries relative to reductions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Nevertheless, most agreed that more needs to be accomplished to mitigate transboundary air pollution and several advocated that more attention be paid to developments in western parts of the continent.

The Second Summary of Critical Air Quality Issues recognizes the considerable progress made by the two countries on issues identified in the first report.

It also offers recommendations on six key areas of transboundary air quality. The Commission endorses the recommendations of its advisory board that the Canadian and U.S. governments should:

  1. encourage private sector air quality research and development using practical measures such as tax incentives tied to emission reductions;
  2. use the U.S. Canada Air Quality Agreement to address emerging transboundary air quality issues in the west;
  3. provide international leadership by example to reduce aviation and marine emissions, including ratification of Annex VI of the International Maritime Organization's MARPOL Convention;
  4. support the collection of consistent and useful air quality data by maintaining stable funding and additional coordination of transboundary monitoring systems;
  5. work with provinces, states, cities and regional governments to both "green" their own operations and to support programs financially that reduce and control pollution from open burning, woodstoves, and consumer products such as lawn and garden equipment; and
  6. examine their current regulatory regimes for existing substances to assess their applicability and effectiveness in regulating newly developed and recognized substances such as nanomaterials.

Both reports are available on the Commission's website at or in the Publications section.

The International Joint Commission prevents and resolves disputes between the United States of America and Canada under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty and pursues the common good of both countries as an independent and objective advisor to the two governments.



Washington Frank Bevacqua 202-736-9024
Ottawa Greg McGillis 613-947-1420

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