Energy, the Environment, and Public Policy: Issues for the 1990s

By David L. McKee | Go to book overview

12 Canadian-U.S. Transboundary Environmental Issues: An Institutional Assessment

EDWARD R. BRUNING

Canada and the United States have been undergoing a metamorphosis in their approach to resolving transboundary environmental and natural resource issues. The literature of the last 20 years, having built upon a vast accumulation of scholarship, demonstrates that interest in Canadian-U.S. relations emphasizes the urgency of identifying modes of decision making that allow interests on both sides of the border to sense improvements in their respective natural environments. People have become increasingly aware that decisions taken elsewhere affect the quality of the air, land, and water around them. Since Canada and the United States share an ecosphere along an extended land and water border, each perceives clearly that the neighbor's actions occasion changes in the quality of resource endowments that are common to both countries.

Many of the difficulties confronting the two major North American nations are due largely to the location of population centers and economic resources. Approximately 80 percent of all Canadians live within 100 miles of the United States, while many of the major industrial cities in both countries are concentrated at or near this border. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that many of the treasured resources of both countries extend from the Lake of the Woods region to the Atlantic Ocean, areas of intensive industrial production. While growing awareness and concern is evident in both countries with respect to the extent of environmental degradation, there exists a keen desire by peoples of both nations to strengthen industrial development. This latter issue is not limited in geographic space, it affects all areas of Canada and many of the northern states in the United States.

In 1980, the C. D. Howe Institute commissioned a study of Canadian-United States transboundary environmental issues

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