Photo: Arizona Department of Environmental Quality wants to reduce the pollution trucks from Mexico create
Each day, hundreds of Mexican trucks cross the U.S.-Mexico border, often idling for hours as they wait in the long lines that can build up at the crossing. In the meantime, exhaust fumes, and other vehicle emissions are filling the air, and adding to the harmful pollution. Unfortunately, since neither the federal or local governments can force vehicles manufactured and bought in Mexico to comply with our emission standards, there was little that air-quality regulators.
Not wanting to give up on reducing the harmful emissions, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is offering to pay Mexican truck drivers to replace their mufflers with new catalytic converters that will reduce the diesel emissions by as much as 30 percent.
Last year, using federal grant money, the ADEQ enabled 55 trucks to have their mufflers replaced. It is expected that another 55 will be replaced by the middle of this year.
The program was started to benefit both countries, and ADEQ Director Henry Darwin said, “It’s about establishing this relationship on environmental issues. It’s especially important on air quality because you can’t stop the air from moving across the border.”
A perfect example would be Ambos Nogales (“Both Nogaleses”). It the name used to encompass Nogales, Sonora (Mexico) and Nogales, Arizona. The area does not meet the coarse-dust pollution limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, yet most of the pollution comes from the Mexico side. It is caused by miles of unpaved roads, trash fires, industrial activity, and vehicle exhaust. Together, they can make the air unbreathable at times, and have been linked to respiratory ailments among other heath conditions.
Since the U.S. can only encourage Mexico to address the issue of air pollution, they can only fit the crossing trucks with more environmentally friendly equipment.
But it should be pointed out that Mexican officials are addressing the problem as well. They have started paving dirt roads—which produce nearly 9,000 tons of dust pollution in the area per year – and have installed air monitors that will help regulators on both sides of the border to identify and measure sources of the pollution.