Campus: San Diego State University -- November 19, 2004
SDSU Professor Appointed Chair of Federal U.S.-Mexico Border
Environmental Advisory Board
Upcoming Report from Committee Will Address Water Quality and Supply
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has appointed Paul Ganster, a San
Diego State University professor and director of SDSU's Institute for Regional
Studies of the Californias, to chair an independent federal advisory committee
that makes recommendations to the president and Congress on methods to improve
environmental conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ganster is the first academic to chair the committee, known as the Good Neighbor
Environmental Board, in the board's 12-year history. He was first appointed to
the board in 2003 in recognition of his efforts over 20 years to address
environmental and sustainable development issues on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Chairs are appointed for one-year terms, but are generally re-appointed for up to
The board's advice to the federal and legislative branches takes the form of
yearly reports and occasional letters containing recommendations for action on a
different environmental subject. Next year's report, the eighth, will deal with
water quality and availability.
Ganster, whose term began Nov. 1, is familiar with water issues through his work
for the Tijuana River Watershed Binational Vision Project. The project's team of
researchers, funded in part by the state of California, the County of San Diego
and SDSU, has recently completed its work to outline an ideal ecological state for
the Tijuana River watershed.
"It's important for the federal board to raise its voice on this issue so the
administration and Congress fully grasp the urgency," Ganster said. "Population
growth along the border coupled with the very limited supply of water means we're
hitting a bottleneck in terms of sustainable development for border communities."
Ganster is a social scientist, specializing in Latin America. He came to SDSU from
UCLA in 1984 to direct the Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias,
which conducts research and outreach on transborder issues and facilitates SDSU's
activity in the region. For the past two decades, Ganster's efforts have been
directed toward policy questions of the U.S.-Mexico border and the comparative
study of border regions around the world.
Elaine Koerner, an EPA official servings as the board's designated federal officer,
said Ganster's experience will help the board better navigate the complex
environmental issues related to the border.
"The board's diverse membership means that its advice comes from experts from many
fields who have come to consensus on how best to handle these complicated issues,"
she said. "Dr. Ganster's leadership will enhance this process."
Koerner said that Ganster already has taken the lead on finishing preparations for
the board's next report, which is set to be presented in Spring 2005 to President
Bush and Congress. The report will focus on how the federal government can most
effectively support good management of the border region's precious water resources.
Members of the Good Neighbor Environmental Board represent public, private and
academic sectors as well as different geographical regions ranging from Southern
California to the upper reaches of the Rio Grande River in Texas. Representatives
from the federal departments of State, Commerce, Interior, Transportation, Agriculture,
Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development also sit on the board.
The previous chair was Placido dos Santos, border environmental manager for the
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
In addition to teaching at SDSU, Ganster has been a visiting professor at the
School of Economics at the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California in Tijuana. He
also sits on the Binational Regional Opportunities Committee of the San Diego
Association of Governments (SANDAG), and is associate director of SDSU's Office of
International Programs, which has established exchange agreements with hundreds of
universities outside the U.S., enabling nearly 1,200 SDSU students to study abroad
Media Contact: Aaron J. Hoskins (619) 594-1119,