U.S. – Mexico Border

What is the purpose of this resource?

The purpose of this resource is to inform the technical assistance provider community about the P2-related resources available to them in the U.S.-Mexico border, which will help them reduce or prevent the growth of waste. Due to the Border’s unique environmental condition, pollution prevention must and will serve as a critical tool to rectify and ameliorate some the environmental issues affecting this region. Some of these conditions include, but are not limited to: 1) rapid urbanization and lack of adequate infrastructure, 2) air pollution from open burning, vehicle emissions, and industrial operations, 3) contamination of surface water and groundwater from open sewers and industrial waste, 4) overuse of aquifers and surface streams, 5) transportation and illegal dumping of hazardous waste, and 6) destruction of natural resources. This resource contains some of the local and state initiatives launched in previous years to promote P2 with the aim of reducing or preventing a further worsening of the region’s environmental condition.

What defines the U.S.-Mexico Border?

The border’s length is approximately 2,000 miles, and there are 14 metropolitan areas on both sides, with 4 states on the U.S. side and 6 states on the Mexican side. The states on the U.S. include Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The states on the Mexican side include Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora and Baja California. There are nearly 14 million people that call this region home. Typically, the width of the U.S. Mexico border as defined by the La Paz Agreement is 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) into U.S. territory and 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) into Mexican territory.

What are some of the specific environmental problems affecting this region?

According to EPA, the following are the greatest environmental challenges facing the municipalities in the U.S. Mexico border:

  • Adequate and Clean Water Supply

Water is the most limited resource in this primarily arid region. Surface and groundwater resources are threatened by contamination, including agricultural runoff, industrial discharge, and untreated sewage. Increasing demand for water has led to the rapid depletion of aquifers.

  • Air Pollution

Pollutants from a number of sources including motor vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities, agricultural operations, mining, dust from unpaved roads, and open burning of trash have affected urban and regional air quality along the U.S.-Mexico border. The most common and damaging pollutants from these sources include sulfur dioxide, suspended particulate matter (PM-10 and PM-2.5), nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, and carbon monoxide. Although substantial gains have been made, air quality is still a major concern throughout the border region. The pressures associated with industrial and population growth, the increase in the number of older vehicles, differences in governance and regulatory frameworks, and topographic and meteorologic conditions present a challenging context in which to address air quality management. These same factors also present many opportunities for binational cooperation.

  • Land Contamination

As the number of people and industrial facilities grow in the border area so does the quantity of hazardous and solid waste generated. Likewise, as the amount of hazardous waste generated increases, so does the risk of contaminated sites. Another important issue is scrap tire piles in the border area because these piles result in mosquito-borne diseases and the possibility of fire which causes severe, acute air contamination. Progress has been made in cleaning up scrap tire piles, remediating contaminated sites and constructing permitted solid waste landfills. One priority area is to establish mechanisms for cleaning up tire piles and preventing more tire piles from being created. Another priority issue is to increase the capacity of permitted hazardous waste facilities so that the capacity of permitted facilities is commensurate with the amount of hazardous waste being generated.

  • Environmental Health

Border environmental health efforts focus on reducing the risk to border families, especially children, that may result from exposure to air pollution, drinking water contaminants, pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

  • Environment-Threatening Incidents & Response

Rapid economic and population growth along the U.S.-Mexico border has also increased the potential for hazardous waste releases and emergencies.  In addition, terrorism is a growing concern for both the United States and Mexico. The ability to plan and prepare bi-nationally improves the probability of adequately responding to incidents and protecting the environment and public from exposure to harmful contaminants and possible serious environmental or health impacts.

  • Industrial Environmental Stewardship

Since the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993, trade between the US and Mexico has been increasing substantially.  Industry (maquiladoras) along the Mexican side of the border is an important source of employment and, consequently, the largely manufacturing industry in the area creates negative environmental impacts.  There are environmental laws on both sides of the border to regulate these industries that tackle issues such as chemical production, pollutant discharge to air and surface waters, and the generation, transportation, storage, and treatment of hazardous wastes.
Below are organizations, agencies, programs and initiatives that have been launched by universities and local, state, and the federal government(s) to address the growing environmental problems along the U.S.-Mexico border:








1.) Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) – Pollution Prevention Programs

Through its Small Business and Local Government Assistance Program, the TCEQ provides confidential, pollution prevention-based assistance to local communities and small businesses along the U.S.-Mexico border. This assistance comes without the threat of enforcement.

Service Areas: Auto body, Auto Repair, Car Washes, Marinas, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), Dry Cleaners, Fleet Maintenance, Foundries, Medical Facilities, Metal Finishers, Paint Spray Booths, Petroleum Storage Tanks (PST) Facilities, Printers, and much more.

Contact Information: Ted Hazen, Manager — Ph: (512) 239-6326

General: 1-800-447-2827 (toll free)
2.) The Center for Environmental Resource Management – University of Texas at El Paso

The Center for Environmental Resource Management (CERM) is a research and outreach center that focuses on academic research, policy, outreach, and other service activities. CERM focuses on energy, hazardous waste, air quality, water availability and quality, ecosystem, and policy issues.  CERM is committed to developing both the human and technical resources needed to build the capacity of the region to solve the environmental problems affecting both business and residential elements of the border.

Service Areas: Energy, Hazardous Waste, Air Quality, Water Availability and Quality, Ecosystem, and Policy.

Contact Information: Bob Currey, Managing Director – Ph: (915) 747-6274 or Barry Benedict, Ph.D., Executive Director – Ph: (915) 747-5406
3.) The Southwest Network for Zero Waste – University of Texas at Arlington

The Southwest Network for Zero Waste is a group of environmental professionals dedicated to finding money-saving options for conserving natural resources. The Network is a collaborative project of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the University of Texas at Arlington, and regional environmental agencies. Together, they work to identify pollution prevention options for large and small businesses as well as consumers.

Service Areas: All industrial sectors including issues related to air, water and hazardous and solid waste.

Contact Information: Thomas Vinson-Peng, Director, Ph: (512) 904-2281
4.) The Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC)

The Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC), TMAC is an affiliate of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It exists to enhance the competitive position of the state’s manufacturing sector. TMAC’s professionals work with a wide range of industrial firms, delivering training, providing technical assistance and implementing best business practices. Focus areas include lean manufacturing and lean office principles, technology solutions, strategic management, quality systems, environment and safety. For service in the border region, TMAC in the Paso del Norte region can be contacted.

Service Areas: Quality Management Systems, Environmental Management Systems, Lean Manufacturing, Environmental Value Stream Mapping, ISO 14001 and more.

Contact Information: Hilario Gamez, Director of the Paso Del Norte TMAC chapter,

Ph: (915) 747-8622
5.) Environmental Protection Agency – Region 6

The EPA Region 6’s U.S.-Mexico Border website is a great resource for programs searching for environmental and pollution prevention assistance and initiatives occurring in Texas and New Mexico.  Information on programs such as Border 2012, the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, and American Heritage Rivers can be accessed at this site. The Region 6 Pollution Prevention Assistance Website is a one-stop shop for regional programs to access information that provides benefits to both the environment and the bottom line. Key prevention strategies include Pollution Prevention (P2), Environmental Management Systems, Performance Track, Energy Star, and WasteWi$e, to name a few. Though these programs are presented as regional, they are a collaborative effort between EPA, the region’s state environmental agencies, and partners in industry, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and trade associations.

Service Areas: Small Businesses and local governments in the states of Texas and New Mexico .

Contact Information: Gina Weber, U.S.-Mexico Border Coordinator, Ph: (214) 665-6787; David Bond, P2 Coordinator, Ph: 214-665-6431; Annette Smith, P2 Coordinator, Ph: 214-665-2127.


1.) New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED)

The New Mexico Environment Department Pollution Prevention Program is a non-regulatory program dedicated and designed to assist New Mexico businesses, local governments and state agencies with P2 issues. NMED offers free services such as; technical support, compliance and regulatory assistance, energy and water conservation and efficiency, waste assessments, training and workshops.

Service Areas: All industrial sectors and local government operations that have issues related to air, water and hazardous and solid waste.

Contact Information: Michelle Vattano, Pollution Prevention Coordinator, Ph: (505) 827-0677

2.) New Mexico State University – WERC Resources Center

The WERC Resources Center (WRC) in Albuquerque, NM provides technical assistance and information to businesses and communities on cost-effective ways to reduce pollution and preserve New Mexico’s valuable environmental resources. P2 has become an important effort by New Mexicans to manage waste products properly and to reduce the source of those wastes. In recent years, the Center has focused on providing P2 service at the U.S.-Mexico border in areas such as healthcare. The Center also coordinated a Paso del Norte P2 Roundtable that included members from Texas, Mexico and New Mexico. Business owners and community leaders are encouraged to contact the center for free technical information on waste management and waste reduction.

Service Areas: All industrial sectors and local government operations that have issues related to air, water and hazardous and solid waste.

Contact Information: Chris Campbell, Manager, Ph: (505) 843-4251


1.) Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) – Pollution Prevention Program

The purpose of Arizona’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Program is to reduce hazardous waste generation and to reduce the use and release of toxic substances by businesses and citizens throughout the state.

The ADEQ Office of Border Environmental Protection (OBEP) focuses on trans-boundary or cross-border issues that impact Arizona’s environment and its citizens. Through a coordinated effort that entails working in a bi-national and bi-cultural setting, ADEQ facilitates efforts aimed at improving air quality, waste management and water quality conditions in Arizona border communities.

Service Areas: All industrial sectors and local government operations that have issues related to air, water and hazardous and solid waste.

Contact Information: Edna Mendoza, OBEP Director, Ph: (520) 628-6710

Dale Anderson, Pollution Prevention, Ph: (602) 771-4104


1.) California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA)California-Baja California Border Environmental Program

The Border Environmental Program (BEP) is a collaborative effort that includes the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA), other California State Agencies, Baja California, and Tribal Nations located along the border region. To ensure that environmental issues are addressed on a multimedia basis, all Cal/EPA boards, departments and offices actively participate in the BEP. Cal/EPA Border Affairs Unit provides oversight and coordination, and directs border efforts through the BEP.

Service Areas: Air Quality, Environmental Health, Environmental Infrastructure, Hazardous Waste Management, Integrated Waste Management/Environmental Education, Pesticides, and Water Quality.

Contact Information: Ricardo Martinez, Deputy Secretary for Border Affairs, Ph: (916) 324-7316

2.) Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)

The Cal/EPA California Border Environmental Program mission is to work towards a better environment in the area of the shared California and Baja California border.  Getting there entails using science and technology, uniformly enforcing environmental laws and regulations, and collaborating closely with Indian Tribal Nations, academia, industry, nongovernmental organizations, and the public.

Ultimately, DTSC’s project scope is to raise pollution prevention awareness and garner support for the goals of the U.S.-Mexico Border 2012 Plan.  Recognizing that it cannot deliver important pollution prevention information and assistance to everyone directly, DTSC makes those resources available to Mexican local, state, and federal government officials, industry and trade associations as a well as academia.

Service Areas:  Solvent Alternatives, Mercury/Hospitals, Janitorial Products, Vehicle Service and Repair, Petroleum Industry, Auto Body and Paint Shops, and more.

Contact Information: Dan Q. Garza, Cal/EPA P2 Border Coordinator, Ph: (916) 322-5798

3.) County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health

The Hazardous Materials Division (HMD) meets periodically with industry, business representatives and community groups to identify better ways to meet the needs of both, the businesses community and the general public in San Diego County. In the year 2000, these meetings identified the need for a program that would provide assistance to small businesses in incorporating pollution prevention into their operations. To fulfill that need, the HMD established in 2001 the Pollution Prevention Program.

Service Areas: All industrial sectors and local government operations that have issues related to air, water and hazardous and solid waste.

Contact Information: For technical questions, call (619) 338-2231

4.) Green Business Program (Negocio Verde) – San Diego

The goal of the San Diego Area Green Business Program is to promote “green” practices among businesses in the region by assisting businesses to operate in an environmentally efficient manner, and to recognize businesses that meet environmental compliance and conservation criteria. Green business is one way in which businesses in the San Diego area can practice pollution prevention.

Service Areas: Food Facilities, Automotive Repair Facilities, and Commercial Offices

Contact Information: Automotive Repair, Susan Hahn, Pollution Prevention Specialist, Hazardous Materials Division, Ph: (619) 338-2324

Food Facilities and Commercial Offices, KariLyn Merlos, Pollution Prevention Specialist, Community Health Division, Ph: (858) 495-5799

5.) Environmental Protection Agency – Region 9

The Region 9 Pollution Prevention Program promotes and supports multi-media, pollution prevention approaches to achieve environmental excellence. EPA Region 9 works throughout the Region, within EPA and with the public and private sectors, to help build capacity of P2 providers. EPA works closely with local and state agencies along the U.S.-Mexico border in reducing the generation of waste and protection of health.

Service Areas: Small Businesses and local governments in the states of California and Arizona.

Contact Information: Leif Magnuson, P2 Coordinator, (415) 972-3286, Wendi Shafir, P2 Coordinator, (415) 972-3422, John Katz, P2 Coordinator, (415) 972-3283, and Jessica Counts, P2 Coordinator, (415) 972-3288.

6.) EPA Region 9 Border Office

In October 1994, EPA established the Border Liaison Office in San Diego, California to support binational efforts that address environmental issues affecting U.S.-Mexico border communities. The mission of the Border Office is to provide accurate and timely environmental information to stakeholders in the border region including non-governmental organizations; state, local, and federal governments; tribes; business associations; academic institutions; citizen groups; and the general public. In addition, the Border Office provides community feedback to agency decision-makers about border programs.

Service Areas: Small businesses, local governments and other stakeholders (including businesses) in the border region.

Contact Information: Tomas Torres, Border Coordinator, Ph: (619) 235-4775

7.) The Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias (IRSC)

The Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias (IRSC) provides San Diego State University with a forum for the investigation, discussion, and dissemination of information about the United States-Mexican border region. The Institute focuses on the border area of California and Baja California, but also monitors border regions elsewhere in the world

Created in 1983, the Institute has undertaken multidisciplinary applied research projects on important regional concerns including transborder environmental issues, policy perspectives of the California-Mexico relationship, quality of life, and sustainable development. IRSC also plays an active role in Mexico-related professional organizations and is frequently consulted on transborder issues by the media, nongovernmental organizations, the public sector, and other border stakeholders.

Service Areas: Universities serving border communities, local and state governments along the US-Mexican border, and other stakeholders.

Contact Information: Paul Ganster, Director, Ph: (619) 594-5423

1.) Border 2012

The U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program (Border 2012) is a collaboration between the United States and Mexico to improve the environment and protect the health of the nearly 12 million people living along the border. The bi-national program focuses on cleaning the air, providing safe drinking water, reducing the risk of exposure to hazardous waste, and ensuring emergency preparedness along the U.S.-Mexico border. The ten-year Border 2012 program takes a bottom-up, regional approach, which relies heavily on local input, decision-making, priority-setting, and project implementation to best address environmental issues in the border region. It brings together a wide variety of stakeholders to prioritize sustainable actions that consider the environmental needs of the different border communities.

Service Areas: Water Contamination, Air Quality, Land Contamination, Environmental Health, Emergency Preparedness and Response, and Environmental Stewardship.

Contact Information: Click here for specific workgroup and geographic contacts.


1.) California-Baja California Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable

CA DTSC has been a key member to establishing a bi-national (California/Baja California) pollution prevention roundtable, Las Californias, in December 2002, bringing together people from Mexican industry, academia, and government.

Service Areas: Air Quality, Water Quality and Soil Contamination.

Contact Information: Daniel Q. Garza, Cal/EPA P2 Border Coordinator, at Ph: (916) 322-5798.
2.) The United States – Mexico Foundation for Science

The Foundation’s mission is to foster innovative cooperation in science and technology that contributes to solving issues of bi-national interest. This is done by fostering and cultivating information networks and by coordinating policies that are mutually beneficial to the economic and environmental well-being of businesses and communities throughout the U.S.-Mexico border.

Service Areas: Local governments, small businesses, industry, and public agencies.

Contact Information:  Michael Acosta, FUMEC Director (El Paso), Ph: (915) 747-6829