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Friday, June 27, 2008

Canada, U.S. increasingly at odds over pollution issues

Border battles: Canada, U.S. increasingly at odds over pollution issues

After decades of relative cooperation between the nations on either side of the river, border battles over environmental issues are becoming increasingly contentious. DTE officials will appear in a Canadian court July 7 to answer charges concerning how its plants' mercury emissions have affected Canada's waters and soils downstream.

Some legal experts trace these changes to the Bush White House and what they see as the government's go-it-alone approach to dealing with the environment. And there are varying ideas about whether the trend is a good thing.

"The Bush administration has been less interested in solving trans-boundary issues through diplomacy and bilateral cooperation than previous administrations," said Noah Hall, an international law expert at Wayne State University. "They haven't taken the diplomatic bilateral approach, and people have been left with no other option than to go to court."

Previously, disputes have been resolved through groups like the International Joint Commission or the Center for Environmental Cooperation, which was established as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement.