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 four years.

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 in 2004.

Media Contact: Aaron J. Hoskins (619) 594-1119,

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