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Pollution - A Global Threat

A polluted river.
A polluted river.

Six international priorities that will guide U.S. environmental protection policy in months and years ahead.

"Pollution doesn't stop at international borders, and neither can our environmental and health protections," said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] Administrator Lisa Jackson. At a meeting in Guanajuato, Mexico, of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, August 17th, Administrator Jackson announced 6 international priorities that will guide U.S. environmental protection policy in months and years ahead.

The priorities include building strong environmental institutions and legal structures. EPA will work in partnership with countries such as Ghana, Kenya and Brazil to support the promotion of good governance, improve judicial and legal structures and advise on the design of regulatory systems necessary for effective environmental protection around the world.

Combating climate change by limiting pollution is another priority. EPA has taken important steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, but the global challenge of climate change requires a global solution. EPA will promote global strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as methane from industry and agriculture and other pollutants such as black carbon from cook stoves. These pollutants are damaging especially vulnerable regions such as the Himalayan glaciers and the Arctic.

Improving air and water quality are also important goals. Asthma and other respiratory illnesses are increasing due to air pollution worldwide. EPA will work with organizations and countries such as Indonesia to improve urban air quality in developing cities and communities. EPA will support global partners and regions, such as the Caribbean in creating safe and efficient drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. The agency will also help in providing long-term, sustainable and high-quality drinking water and sanitation systems for overburdened and underserved communities such as those along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Chemicals are prevalent in everything from food to baby bottles. As children develop, they are especially vulnerable to these chemicals, particularly mercury and lead. EPA will work closely with global partners to provide protections for people and consistency for industry. Working with partners such as the United Nations Environmental Programme, EPA will strive to reduce or eliminate the impact of pesticides and other toxic chemicals on human health and the environment.

The electronics that provide us with convenience often end up discarded in developing countries where improper disposal can threaten local people and the environment. EPA recognizes this important concern and will work with international partners to address the issues of E-waste in the near term.

"Our challenges are shared challenges," said EPA Administrator Jackson. The United States is committed to working with the international community to meet those challenges.