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NATURAL RESOURCE ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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AGRICULTURE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the leading US agency charged with implementing US policies for the provision of food, fiber and forest products. This includes responsibility for research, development, and dissemination of knowledge about managed ecosystems and sustainable methods of producing food, fiber, and forest products. To accomplish this mission, the USDA works with many other groups including the President's Council on Sustainable Development, the National Science and Technology Council, the Committee on Food Safety and Health, other Federal agencies, State agricultural and forest experiment stations, State land-grant colleges and universities, extension services, non-profit organizations, among others. A number of associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOS) are involved in the process associated with USDA programmes as well as the legislative process pertaining to the periodic domestic agricultural legislation ("farm bills") developed and enacted by the Congress, in consultation with the Administration.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

The 1990 "Farm Bill", the US Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 USE 3101) defined sustainable agriculture as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term, satisfy human food and fiber needs; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends; make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm operation; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and members of rural communities, and society as a whole." The USDA policy on sustainable development (SM 9500-6), established in 1996, states: "USDA will balance goals of improved production and profitability, stewardship of the natural resource base and ecological system, and enhancement of the vitality of rural communities."

The US government continuously reviews policy, research programmes, extension programmes and other activities related to food, fiber, and forestry production, marketing and consumption. The most recent national legislation on agricultural and rural development was the 1996 Farm Bill (the Federal Agricultural and Improvement Act). This legislation extended the Conservation Reserve and Wetland Reserve Programmes until the year 2002. It also established the Environmental Quality Incentives Programme (EQIP) which combines functions of earlier conservation programmes, and improving community-based priority-setting for natural resources problems at the watershed level, including criteria for funding. Examples of critical resource issues which are being addressed include water quality, salinization, nutrient management, livestock management, water conservation, and soil erosion.

The US government began national efforts to slow farmland loss and protect important agricultural lands with the passage of the Farmland Protection Policy Act in 1981. Federal regulations to implement the law were finally adopted in 1994. The 1996 Farm Bill created the Farmland Protection Programme, which provides matching federal funds for State and local farmland protection programmes. This programme compensates farmers for voluntarily limiting future development on their land through a "conservation easement." The programme enables landowners to sell development rights on their land to a government agency while retaining full ownership. A Farmland Information Center (FIC) was also established to provide information resources to federal, state, and local officials, conservation professionals, farmers and ranchers, agricultural organizations and concerned citizens. The FIC is available through the Internet at: http://www.farmlandinfo.org; technical assistance staff are available by phoning: 413-586-4593.

The periodic re-authorization of US national agricultural legislation (the "Farm Bill") has provided opportunities to improve national land conservation and rehabilitation efforts. The 1996 Farm Bill simplified several existing conservation programmes and created new programmes to assist landowners in addressing high-priority national environmental protection goals.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

In 1996, USDA further committed all USDA agencies toward integrating economic, environmental, and social sustainability into all policies and programmes, particularly through interagency collaboration, partnerships, and outreach. A Director of Sustainable Development was appointed to represent USDA in both domestic and international arenas on issues relating to sustainable development.

In early 1999, The US released a National Action Plan on Food Security: "Solutions to Hunger" which was a joint effort between a Federal Interagency Working Group and the non-governmental Food Security Advisory Committee of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development. This plan outlines the means, through priority strategies and actions, by which the United States will address the World Food Summit's goals. These include a policy environment that supports economic and food security and food and water safety, trade and investment liberalization, and improved decision making, through inventory, research, education, and integration of environmental and sustainability concerns. The National Action Plan is available at: http://www.fas.usda.gov/icd/summit/usactplan.pdf.

The USDA Community Food Security Initiative was created to implement the domestic components of the US Food Security Action Plan. The Food Security Initiative is designed to help communities build their local food systems in order to decrease hunger, improve nutrition, and help families move from poverty to self-sufficiency. The Initiative is building links directly between USDA and non-profit groups, private businesses, and citizens, as well as with state, local, and tribal governments to help communities end hunger.

Integrated Pest Management in US Agriculture

The US Government's research and education on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) includes research on pests, pesticide resistance, biological controls, cultural controls and sterile insect release programmes. IPM involves the exploration and utilization of biological cycles and genetic diversity of agricultural pests, host resistance, naturally occurring pathogens and parasites. It also includes the study and use of reduced toxicity pesticides. IPM involves training and education to foster a variety of pest control techniques in order to keep pesticide intervention to a minimum.

The President has established a goal of IPM adoption on 75% of US cropland. The USDA Economic Research Service , in a recent report [Green Technologies for a More Sustainable Agriculture, 1999] shows that this goal has been reached for pest scouting in fruit and vegetable crops, and projects the goal for full implementation will be reached in vegetable production between 2008-36, and in fruit acres by 2005.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

In support of resource based rural development, farm legislation was established and supports local Resource Conservation and Development Councils throughout the nation. These Councils which consist of citizen volunteers, design, fund, and implement a wide range of demonstration and capacity building projects in their rural communities. Examples of recent projects include: timber bridge construction, dry fire hydrant installation, oyster bed seeding, local value-added food processing systems, no till seeders, solar powered and animal operated pumps for rotational grazing system demonstrations, etc.

The Sustainable Agriculture Task Force of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, with extensive input from the public and a wide range of interested individuals and groups, completed and released its 1996 Report, which included goals and recommendations for policy actions to be implemented by the public and private sectors. Recommendations addressed supporting environmentally sound and economically viable agricultural production, revitalizing rural farming communities, producing a safe and high-quality food supply, encouraging research on integrating productivity, profitability and environmental stewardship, and achieving international harmonization of intellectual property rights.

Programmes and Projects 

Under the 1996 Farm Bill, a new Farmland Protection Programme has been implemented, and works through existing State and county rural land preservation efforts to limit non-agricultural uses of land. A new Wildlife Habitat Incentive Programme, which funds wildlife habitat restoration, restored 1.7 million ha to date. Through the Wetlands Reserve Programme, almost 524,000 ha of wetlands and wetland buffer areas are being restored on farmland. These programmes administered through USDA complement State, local, non-governmental, and other Federal efforts. The 1996 Farm Bill also continued existing natural resource conservation efforts which require preservation of existing wetlands on agricultural land, and require the use of special conservation plans to control erosion on highly-erodible soils for landowners to continue receiving farm programme benefits.

To encourage the economic development of rural communities, the US Government has an alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization Programme. This programme seeks to enhance farm income by developing and commercializing non-food, non-feed uses of traditional and non-traditional agricultural products. A revolving loan fund, established to encourage this work has granted loans for purposes as diverse as the establishment of standards and common terminology for biofuels, the manufacture of paper from straw, the manufacture of high quality furniture from low-quality and small diameter logs, the use of kenaf as a mat for seeding lawn grass and making newsprint and fiberboard, and the use of milkweed as a filler for pillows and comforters.

One example of the US Government's effort to establish land reclamation programmes for degraded land is the Conservation Reserve Programme. The purpose of the programme is to assist land owners in the restoration of grass or trees on highly erodible or fragile cropland, (including land with associated ground or surface water that may be vulnerable to contamination). Through ten-year contracts, approximately 89 million ha (36 million acres) have been removed from production and revegetated in this programme. The USDA also provides various natural disaster relief programmes to assist farms and ranches that have suffered losses.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducts research on sustainable plant nutrition and increasing food production, availability, and safety. All aspects of agricultural research from germplasm conservation to human nutrition are addressed in 23 national programmes. Sustainability is an important element of all these national research programmes. All ARS national programmes [details can be found on the Internet at: http://www.ars.usda.gov] seek to enhance productivity while minimizing impacts on the environment. National programmes in the Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems area in particular address topics such as water management and quality, soil quality, rangeland health, manure management, climate change, and integrated farming systems. The Integrated Farming Systems (IFS) National Programme is the focal point for research activities that take a holistic approach. IFS research takes into account the interacting components a producer must balance, how the farm or ranch as a whole ban best be managed, and how the farm functions within the larger landscape.

Status 

Agriculture in the United States (US) today is both diverse and complex, and its description requires more than a compilation of facts on farm numbers, farm sizes, and farm production. National averages often mask the variation and interactions that are key to understanding the roles of major participants in US agricultural production. Such an understanding is essential to assessing the sustainability and the economic health of the agricultural sector, and the effects of government programmes and Federal laws on farming systems and rural areas across the country.

Land Conservation and Rehabilitation

Of the existing total land area in the United States of 4.7 billion hectares (ha) [1.9 billion acres], about 1.5 billion ha [600 million acres] physical characteristics favorable to crop production: sufficient rainfall, adequate topsoil depth with good water-holding capacity, and gentle slopes. Results from the USDA National Resources Inventory indicate that on the nation's non-federal cropland, erosion decreased by 42 percent between 1982 and 1997.

About 1.6 billion ha (660,000 acres/year) of cropland and pastureland were converted to urban uses in the US during the period 1982 to 1992. Although the cropland base is fairly stable at 939 million ha (380 million acres) since 1992, more than half of the cropland converted to developed land between 1982 and 1992 was considered prime agricultural land. Land converted to cultivated cropland between 1995 and 1997 was generally lower in quality (steeper and more erodible) than the existing cropland area.

Sustainability of Freshwater Resources for Agricultural Production and Rural Development

The United States is a water-rich country overall, but there is significant variation is water availability from one place to another and from one year to the next. Irrigation constitutes almost 85% of consumptive use, with the remainder going to domestic use (7%), industry (5%), and power generation (4%). Since the early 1970s, considerable progress has been made in improving the quality of US waters, but much remains to be done to achieve water quality goals stated in the US Clean Water Act.

In 1997, USDA released a report: Water Quality and Agriculture: Status, Conditions, and Trends. The report addresses soil quality, sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticides, salinity, agricultural resource management, water quality, and agricultural policies and programmes.

In 1998 the U.S. government released a Clean Water Action Plan: Restoring and Protecting America's Waters. A key element is a new cooperative approach to watershed protection in which state, tribal, federal, and local governments, and the public identify priority watersheds with critical water quality problems and then work together to focus resources and implement effective strategies to solve those problems. An interagency Animal Feeding Operation Strategy to combine clean water goals with animal and crop nutrition has been released and is undergoing extensive public review.

Challenges

The 1999 Rural Conditions and Trends released by the USDA Economic Research Service reports that rural areas continue to lag urban areas in earnings and income, with a disproportionate share of minorities economically disadvantaged. However, falling unemployment, growing per capita incomes, and rising earnings indicate a positive economic climate in rural areas.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Programme administers a competitive grants programme that has advanced sustainable agriculture systems in the United States. The SARE programme works through four regional Councils to identify information needs and select projects in a competitive process. The SARE programme also supports Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups, and a Sustainable Agriculture Campaign. SARE has funded nearly 1,400 projects to explore and apply economically-profitable, environmentally-sound and socially-supporting farming systems. The SARE website is: http://www.sare.org.

The USDA Small Farm ,Programme with a goal to improve the income levels and economic viability of small farm enterprises, convened a National Conference in 1996 to discuss research, extension, marketing strategies, economic opportunities, social issues, small farm policy, and programme impacts, accountability, and delivery. Proceedings were published in 1997 and USDA is working to implement the recommendations in that report. The USDA Small Farms website is: http://www.usda.gov/oce/sdsf/

Diversifying Rural Employment

To help rural Americans build globally competitive businesses and cooperatives, the USDA administers a variety of business programmes including grants, commercial lending and revolving loan funds as well as technical assistance, which are usually leveraged with commercial, cooperative, or other private-sector lender resources. Guarantees or direct loans are available for businesses that create or maintain employment and improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities.

These programmes are delivered by a nationwide field staff serving 50 States, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Western Pacific Territories. In Fiscal Year 1998, a total of 983 loans and 435 grants totaling US$ 1.3 billion were disbursed. This resulted in over 70,000 jobs either being created or saved in rural America.

Information

The US Government has many programmes that collect data, establish databases, and provide network access to these databases. Databases are developed and maintained for germplasm information, pests, pesticide and fertilizer use, production practices, soil types, forest types, insect infestations, and crop coverage/production. Economists analyze the data to compare input use and profitability of different production practices. Many of these databases can be accessed worldwide by research scientists, extension agents, farmers, and the general public.

The US Government is dedicated to making available all necessary knowledge and technology to farmers, extension agents and planners. The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) is the outreach arm of the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) programme. The Sustainable Agriculture Network disseminates information about sustainable agriculture through electronic and print publications. For example, in 1997 it published the Source Book of Sustainable Agriculture for Educators, Producers, and other Agricultural Professionals: A Guide to Books, Newsletters, Conference Proceedings, Bulletins, Videos and more. Other SAN books address cover crop use, weed management and organic agriculture. SAN publishes informational bulletins about sustainable agriculture, including dairy, crop diversification and on-farm research. It also sponsors a mail group on the Internet called sanet-mg, where 900 subscribers discuss sustainable agriculture philosophy and practices. SAN maintains most of its information on the World Wide Web, where more information about the SARE grant programme can also be found ( http://www.sare.org).

USDA websites with information on sustainable agriculture include:

US National Agricultural Library: http://www.nal.usda.gov/

AgNIC (Agriculture Network Information Center): http://www.agnic.org/

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/

ATTRA - Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas: http://www.attra.org/

USDA Sustainable Development and Small Farms: http://www.usda.gov/oce/sdsf/

Agricultural Research Service (ARS): http://www.ars.usda.gov/

US National Cooperative Soil Survey: http://www.statlab.iastate.edu/soils/nsdaf/

US Natural Resources Inventory: http:// www.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov/NRI/background.html, and http://www.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov/land/home.html, respectively .

The National Agricultural Library (NAL), [ http://www.nal.usda.gov], part of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), provides world leadership in developing and applying information technologies that ensure that agricultural knowledge and information are available to those who need it. AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access), NAL's ever-growing bibliographic database of over 3 million records, provides onsite and remote users with the information they need, quickly and easily. National and international customers seeking information are served through AgNIC, a virtual information center established in collaboration with several land-grant university libraries to provide a focal point for seamless Internet access to distributed agriculture-related information, subject area experts, and other resources. AgNIC includes AgDB, a database directory of quality agriculture-related databases, datasets, and information systems, [ http://www.agnic.org/agdb/]. Customers seeking specific information about alternative, organic, or sustainable agriculture are served by NAL's Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC).

USDA maintains a number of databases available to all users through the National Agricultural Library. Extension agents in virtually every county of the United States provide information and technical assistance to farmers and citizens. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) (formerly the Soil Conservation Service) has natural resource planning specialists in virtually every county, to assist landowners with resource planning. Through the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SANET) funded by the SARE programme, information is being provided in many forms, including printed reports and databases that demonstrate research findings to farmers with computers and to information providers world wide. The Department of Agriculture operates the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) programme which transfers information about sustainable agriculture to farmers. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have formed a partnership with a number of groups and companies representing agricultural and non-agricultural pesticide users to promote environmental stewardship of pesticide use in the United States.

In 1999 the U.S. General Accounting Office released the report, Food Security: Factors That Could Affect Progress Toward Meeting World Food Summit Goals. This report is available at: http://www.gao.gov. Factors that were investigated include: trade reform, actions to reduce conflict, increasing agricultural production, and safety net programs and food aid. The report also addressed the need to develop a food security information system and improved coordination.

The National Cooperative Soil Survey and the Natural Resources Inventory contain information on soil types and natural resources conditions and trends on non-federal lands. Information about these databases and their uses can be found at: http://www.statlab.iastate.edu/soils/nsdaf/, http://www.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov/NRI/backgriound/html, and http://www.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov/land/home.html.

Research and Technologies 

Rural Energy Transition

USDA, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the US Department of Energy (DOE) have supported numerous research, demonstration, and pilot projects on producing alternative energy from agriculture, including, for example, methane capture from livestock operations, production and use of biomass crops, and solar and wind power generation. By a recent (August 1999) Executive Order, federal efforts to develop 21st century bio-based industries that use trees, crops and agricultural and forestry wastes to make fuels, chemicals, and electricity will be further coordinated and accelerated. A goal of tripling U.S. use of bio-based products and bioenergy by 2010 was established by the Executive Memorandum. This could create $15 billion to $20 billion in new income for farmers and rural America, and reduce fossil fuel emissions by an amount up to 100 million metric tons of carbon.

Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant and Animal Genetic Resources

The National Plant Germplasm Advisory Committee has been in operation for over 20 years. The US Government maintains the world's most extensive germplasm storage network. The base collection is housed in the National Seed Storage Laboratory. Active genebanks are located in more than 20 locations around the country. Compared to plant germplasm initiatives, the conservation and sustainable utilization of animal genetic resources for sustainable agriculture is in its infancy. The US, however, has begun collecting a national inventory of available animal genetic resources.

The USDA National Plant Materials Programme selects and develops plant materials for commercial distribution. These plants, for use in land conservation, are increasingly selected from among native plant species.

Financing 

Since 1988, the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research Extension (SARE) Programme has provided funding for approximately 1400 projects in the areas of research and education, producer grants (for on-farm, farmer/rancher initiated research), and professional development.

Cooperation

The US Government participated in the exchange of scientific personnel for education, training and cooperative efforts related to sustainable agricultural practices in developing countries. It also provides scientific, technical and educational assistance addressing issues of agricultural sustainability. USAID has supported sustainable agriculture practices through the International Agriculture Research Centers (IARCs), which receive their funding through the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR). The US is also one of CGIAR's leading contributors. The US has also worked at FAO to support greater diffusion and action on programs that promote sustainable agricultural practices.

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 This information was provided by the Government of United States of America to the 5th and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: December 1999.

For country reports on Plant Genetic Resources, click here.
For information on the Sustainable Agriculture Task Force of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, click here.
For national information on pesticides, click here.
To access the FAOSTAT Data Base for information by country, item, element and year, click here:
Click here to go to the Web Site of the BSS (Biotechnology and Scientific Services) maintained by APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) of USDA (United States Department of Agriculture, which contains a complete database (1987-present) for movement permits, release permits, notifications, and petitions of Genetically Modified Organisms in the U.S.A.
Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to link to Country and Sub-regional Information on Plant Genetic Resources of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
Click here to go to Web Site of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which includes information on the Codex Alimentarius and the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
Click here to access the Web Site of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Click here to access the sixteen international agricultural research centers that are members of the CGIAR.

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ATMOSPHERE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Department of Energy, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office are full-fledged members of the President's Council on Sustainable Development and are primarily responsible for the "protection of the atmosphere". 

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

The Clean Air Act and its amendments have been reviewed. The Government, scientific community and NGOs have conducted studies on the impacts of air pollution and the depletion of the ozone layer on public health.

Regarding the programme area of preventing stratospheric ozone depletion, national goals concerning the phase-out of CFCs and other ozone depleting substances are outlined in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

The President's Climate Change Plan includes nearly 50 different initiatives designed to reduce greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. It is estimated that these efforts will save $260 billion in energy bills by the year 2010 while promoting economic efficiency and competitiveness. Many initiatives are largely voluntary programmes designed to spur cost-effective actions without additional regulations and bureaucracy. One of these, The US Initiative in Joint Implementation, jointly chaired by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, is a voluntary pilot programme designed to contribute to international understanding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in different geographic regions through joint US and foreign partnerships.

In July 1996, the US announced interest in achieving a binding agreement to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The US government will attempt to reduce emissions through market-based solutions such as pollution trading permits and energy efficiency measures.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

The private sector and the government have developed methodologies to identify threshold levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. 

The Pollution Pilot Project is led by a core group from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Amoco Petroleum, The Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto Company, Rayanier and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The group has begun to identify opportunities to cut production and environmental costs while reducing and preventing pollution at two chemical manufacturing facilities - a Dow Chemical plant in La Porte, Texas and a Monsanto plant in Pensacola, Florida.


Programmes and Projects 

The US Government promotes policies and programmes in the areas of energy efficiency, environmentally sound and efficient transportation, industrial pollution control, sound land-use practices, sound management of marine resources and management of toxic and other hazardous waste. The government, scientific community and NGOs have conducted studies on the cumulative impacts of air pollution and the depletion of the ozone layer on public health. To date, one of the most important studies conducted is the EPA's Regulation Impact Analysis which was undertaken in 1994.

Regarding the programme area of energy, transport and industry, the US Government has reviewed current energy supply mixes.

Money-saving pollution prevention initiatives have been implemented at the facility level. 

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

The national early detection system, the national capacity to predict changes and fluctuations and capacity building for performing systematic observations and fluctuations are rated "good". These actions are primarily governmental and undertaken by the private sector. The US Government has provided training opportunities in the area of transboundary atmospheric pollution control and encourages industry to develop environmentally safe technologies. The country's capacity for observation and assessment, research and information exchange are rated "very good". The US Government actively participates in strengthening the Global Climate Observing System at national levels.

Information 

In the area of environment and transport, emissions monitoring is comprehensive and systematic. In the area of transboundary atmospheric pollution control, the government has facilitated the exchange of data and information at national and international levels

Research and Technologies 

The US Government is involved in the development and use of terrestrial and marine resources and land-use practices that will be more resilient to atmospheric changes and fluctuations. The US government supports the conservation and enhancement of sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, including biomass, forests and oceans, as well as other terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems.  The US Government has also strengthened early warning systems and response mechanisms for transboundary air pollution resulting from industrial accidents and natural disasters.

Financing 

In 1994, the US contributed US$34 million to the Montreal Protocol. Air pollution abatement and control expenditures in the United States were estimated at $31.9 billion in 1993.

Regarding the programme area of transboundary atmospheric pollution, the US acceded to the UN/ECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Pollution in 1979. In October 1993, the US announced the US Initiative on Joint Implementation (USIJI) to, among other things, encourage the development and implementation of cooperative, cost-effective voluntary projects between US and foreign partners, especially projects that promote technological cooperation and sustainable development. USIJI also aimed at fostering private sector investment and innovation in the development and dissemination of technologies for reducing or sequestering greenhouse gas emissions. One of USIJI's objectives is to encourage participating countries to adopt more complete climate action programs, including national inventories, baselines, policies and measures, and appropriate specific commitments. Complementing USIJI is the US Country Studies Programme (CSP), an interagency programme designed to provide technical and financial support to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for climate change studies. In 1994, USAID funding for projects to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions was at approximately $143 million, a more than 200 percent increase over similar funding expended in 1991 before UNCED.

Cooperation

The Montreal Protocol (1987) was signed in 1988, the London Amendment (1990) was signed before 1992, and the Copenhagen Amendment (1992) was signed after 1992. The latest reports to the Montreal Protocol Secretariat were prepared in 1996. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992 and the latest report to the UNFCCC Secretariat was submitted in 1994.

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This information is based on the United States of America's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For national information on global warming, click here.
For national information on air and radiation, click here.
For national information on energy and transport, click here.
For national information about the Energy Star Programme for pollution prevention, click here.
Click here for national information from the Web Site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
For the access to the Web Site of the Ozone Secretariat, click here:

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BIODIVERSITY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

In the US, all levels of government, the private sector and individuals share major responsibilities for conservation and biological diversity. The federal government has broad responsibility for managing terrestrial and marine biodiversity of public lands (approximately one-third of the US land area), coastal waters, as well as specific responsibilities for regulating private uses of resources of national interest that have important biological values (e.g. estuaries, wetlands, floodplain, critical habitat for endangered species). State governments have broad responsibilities for regulating uses of land and natural resources (e.g., hunting and fishing) not subject to Federal reservation. 

In 1993, the White House Office of Environmental Policy established the Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force to coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive Ecosystem Management Initiative. The Task force seeks to promote a consistent approach to environmental management by learning from large scale ecosystem-based management efforts, and strengthening the ongoing development of an ecosystem management approach for federal lands and federally managed programmes. This approach entails involving multiple agencies within larger ecological boundaries. It also relies on finding ways to increase voluntary participation of state, tribal, and local governments as well as nongovernmental organizations and the public. Through the Ecosystem Management Initiative, multi-agency Ecosystem Management Teams are being established to work with local and regional stakeholders in developing "New Initiatives Laboratories" as cooperative demonstrations of ecosystem management in areas where such management is not well developed, yet where significant opportunities for demonstrating integrated management exist.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

Ecosystem management strategies have been adopted in the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense and Energy, as well as in the USEPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In some cases, broad-scale organizational frameworks are being implemented. For example, the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the Department of the Interior has defined approximately 50 ecosystem "units" across the country as a basis for future planning related to sustainable management and endangered species conservation.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

State and local parks and reserves are important in biodiversity conservation. In states that lack large federal landholdings, NGOs, private institutions and individual landowners protect large numbers of tracts, maintain significant ex situ facilities such as arboreta and zoological parks and play an increasing role in conservation.

Cooperative efforts involving various levels of government and the private sector are underway to implement the biosphere reserve concept in several regions. For example, in the diverse forest ecosystem of the southeastern highlands, the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere (SAMB) Programme is being implemented as a joint undertaking of the SAMB Cooperative and the SAMAB Foundation. The former organization includes representatives from Federal and state agencies, and the latter from private institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and local communities. Working together, these organizations enable ecosystem stakeholders to consult, share capabilities, and pool resources to address conservation and development problems in a biologically diverse and culturally distinctive area that includes territory of six states. The International Sonoran Desert Alliance is a public-private partnership, established in 1992 in an area of the western Sonoran desert that includes a cluster of biosphere reserves in northwestern Mexico and Arizona. The Alliance includes residents, business leaders, state and federal resource managers and conservationists from the United States and Mexico, and offers an ecosystem-based forum for local communities to develop shared goals and joint projects for community development and protection of the cultural and biological diversity of one of the largest intact arid ecosystems in the world. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), has pioneered development of methods and data systems to support biodiversity conservation.

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

Post-UNCED domestic policy has focused on promoting partnerships among Federal, state and private programmes concerned with biological diversity, coordinating government-wide research, data systems, and technology development, and demonstrating ecosystem-based management approaches, while concurrently establishing protected areas, maintaining ex situ repositories for genetic resources and improving public education. Federal systems of national parks, forests, grasslands, wildlife refuges, marine sanctuaries, wilderness areas, and other management categories and special designations play a major role in situ conservation of biodiversity. Federal programmes and facilities also play a major role in collection and ex situ preservation of crop germplasm and other genetic resources of potential or actual economic importance.

The State Department has coordinated development of the interagency Coral Reef Initiative to build domestic and international partnerships, provide coordination and integration of existing and new activities, and develop the technical and human resources needed to conserve, protect, and manage coral reef ecosystems in the United States and the world. The CRI was launched through an international workshop in early 1995. By 1996, plans called for implementation of an expanded Coral Reef Research Programme, a global monitoring programme, a comprehensive programme of research and conservation of reef ecosystems under US jurisdiction and an international programme of capacity-building focusing on partnerships for effective management of coral reef ecosystems, taking into account the full range of threats from local land-based pollution to the potential effects of global change.

Information 

National Biodiversity Databases on Ecosystems include: National Wetlands Inventory, National Coastal Wetlands Database, Wetlands Creation and Restoration Database, Gap Analysis Database, Global Ecosystems, Biospherics Programme, Earth Resources Observation Systems, Data Atlases (Coastal/Marine Ecosystems) and the National Estuarine Inventory. Databases on Species include: Wetland Plant List and Species databases, Candidate Plant and Animal species, Endangered Species Country List, BIOS, Federal Interagency Sensitive Wildlife Information System, National Contaminant Biomonitoring, National Biomonitoring Inventory, North American Breeding Birds, Bird Banding and Band Recovery, Waterfowl Breeding Populations, Waterfowl Harvest, Winter Waterfowl, Marine and Waterbird Colonies, Fisheries Statistics, Living Maritime Resources Programme, Forest Inventory and Analysis. Other Databases include: Biosphere Reserve Integrated Monitoring Programme, National Resource Inventories in National Forests and Grasslands, National Park flora, National Park Fauna, Land Condition and Trend Analysis (US Army). Taxonomy Databases include: Smithsonian Taxonomic Databases, Plant List of Accepted Nomenclature, Taxonomy and Symbols, EPA Taxonomic and the National Oceanographic Data Center Code System. Regional databases include: Endangered Plants of Northwestern states, New England Animal Species, raptors, Fish Stocking, Commercial Fish Catch. In 1991, 4,542 Ph.D. Awards were granted in the biological sciences.

The Federal government launched an interagency effort in 1993 to develop a baseline synthesis of the current knowledge of major eco-regions in the US.

Research and Technologies 

In 1993, the Federal Government established the National Biological Service (NBS) to provide information and technology for managing biological diversity. NBS is a catalyst for developing methods and protocols for biological inventory, monitoring, research and data management. Through partnerships with other agencies and private organizations, the NBS will coordinate access to biological information by Federal, state and other land managers and other sectors of society, document diversity trends, and feature the causes of biological impoverishment. In 1994, the NBS began to develop and synthesize biological information to support cooperative management of 10 ecosystems and initiated a review of national and regional biodiversity issues and trends based on existing data sources. Under the auspices of the Interagency Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources established by the White House in 1993, a Subcommittee on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics has been charged with developing an integrated government-wide strategy and implementation plan for R&D on biodiversity and ecological dynamics to support management and conservation of renewable resources. 

Financing 

The Biodiversity Conservation Network, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), works with NGO and private sector partners in host countries to develop and implement economically viable approaches for conserving biodiversity at the local level. Grants support development and marketing of new sustainable nonforest timber products, ecotourism enterprises, cooperative biodiversity prospecting and other innovative projects. In cooperation with the World Bank, USAID in 1994-1995 helped establish funding organizations to strengthen country institutions and support biodiversity activities in Indonesia (Indonesia Biodiversity Foundation) and Mexico (Mexican Conservation Fund), and recently provided a $3 million grant to Conservation International to conduct rapid biodiversity assessments in the Andean region of South America and insular Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Through the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups Programme, USAID is collaborating with the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to award grants to US and developing country partners for discovering bioactive agents for the pharmaceutical industry while encouraging biological conservation and sustainable economic development.

Cooperation

The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in 1993 but not yet ratified. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was signed in 1993 and already ratified.

The US expanded participation in international programmes to support the conservation of native migratory species that require seasonal habitats in multiple countries through the Partners in Flight Programme. Government agencies and private organizations are establishing national, regional, state, and physiographic working groups to coordinate monitoring, research, and public education efforts to conserve neotropical migratory birds and their habitats, and to link these efforts with those of other nations in the Hemisphere. In 1994, the US, Canada, and Mexico signed an update to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan that expanded their commitment to restoring continental waterfowl populations and conserving the biological diversity of critical wetlands. From 1990 through 1993, the cooperative programme to implement the Plan has protected, restored, or enhanced 2.26 million acres in the US and 1.19 million acres in Canada, and launched 15 projects in 9 Mexican states (1990 - 1994), as well as implemented mapping, planning and educational projects covering an additional 3 million wetland acres.

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This information is based on the United States of America's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For information on the Natural Resources Task Force of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, click here.
For national information on sustainable ecosystems and communities, click here.
For access to the Web Site of the Convention on Biological Diversity, click here:
For access to the Web Site of the CITES Convention, click here:
For the Web Site of the CMS Convention, click here:
For the Web Site of the Convention on the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage, click here:
For the country-by-country, Man in the Biosphere On-Line Query System, click here:
Click here to go to the Web Site of the BSS (Biotechnology and Scientific Services) maintained by APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) of USDA (United States Department of Agriculture, which contains a complete database (1987-present) for movement permits, release permits, notifications, and petitions of Genetically Modified Organisms in the U.S.A.
Environmental Releases Database for the U.S.
Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to go to the Web Site of UNEP's International Register on Biosafety.
Agricultural Genome Information System

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DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The US Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Interior, in coordination with other US agencies, actively participated in activities to negotiate the International Convention to Combat Desertification and co-sponsored an International Symposium and Workshop on Desertification in Developed Countries in October of 1994. The departments are currently developing a number of ecosystem-based demonstration projects in the arid and semi-arid areas of the United States. An International Symposium and Workshop on Desertification in Developed Countries was proposed for May 1997.

There is a wide variety of federal agencies involved in combatting desertification and drought in the western part of the United States. These agencies include the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, the Geological Survey, the National Biological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the Soil Conservation Service. There are thousands of professional staff members in these agencies whose jobs involve combatting desertification and drought in one form or another.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

In August 1993, legislation was revised to combat desertification and drought. In order to raise the overall level of knowledge of the causes and effects of drought and desertification, the Departments of Interior, Commerce (through the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration - NOAA), and Agriculture, in coordination with other appropriate US agencies, agreed to explore the feasibility of a domestic demonstration programme aimed at the optimum management of drylands for sustainable use.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

There is a significant number of state, local and tribal units of government and a wide variety of non-governmental organizations involved in combatting desertification and drought. NGOs are advisory participants at the field/grassroots level and ad hoc participants at national planning and middle levels. Women are ad hoc participants at national, district and grassroots levels. Youth are involved in national or district level planning but seldom at the grassroots level.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

Significant areas susceptible to desertification comprise approximately 37% of the United States. Numerous federal, state and local land use plans have been prepared for areas susceptible to desertification. These plans generally fall into three broad categories: functional or sector-specific plans, such as highway construction plans; resource specific plans, such as plans to manage fishery resources or plans to reduce soil erosion; and local comprehensive land use plans. The US has only begun to undertake planning on an ecosystem-wide basis. There are no national or regional plans or strategies to combat desertification.

The impact of improper farming, land use, natural causes and water withdrawals on desertification is modest. Grazing has a moderate impact; fuel wood collection is insignificant. Improper grazing practices in the 1800's and early 1900's resulted in the degradation of large areas of the western part of the United States. These areas have been slow to recover.

Challenges

In order to address identified problems associated with desertification, Federal natural resource agencies, in cooperation with State, Tribal and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private land owners are gradually developing ecosystem-based approaches to restore degraded areas. Social, economic and cultural incentives exist so that farmers undertake conservation and regenerative measures. Rangeland Reform '95 reduced grazing fees for good stewardship on federally-owned grazing lands.

Information 

There are approximately 25,000 hydrological monitoring stations with good coverage and adequate staff dealing with desertification issues at the Federal and State levels. There is, however, a shortage of trained field level staff.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

The Fifth International Rangeland Congress was held in July 1995. The major international, regional and bilateral programmes active in the US include UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB); National Science Foundation LTER sites; US / Mexico Border Environmental Issues Field Committee and the International Sonoran Desert Alliance.

The International Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa was signed in 1994 but not yet ratified.

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This information is based on the United States of America's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For access to the Web Site of the Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought, click here:

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ENERGY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

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FORESTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The US has a highly decentralized federal system of government and a mix of forest land ownership. About 60% of US forests (180 million ha) are privately owned by 11 million owners. The 50 states are individually responsible for guiding and regulating management of these private forests. The states also manage state-owned forests, and at the local level, hundreds of counties and many cities own and manage forest areas. About 35% of forest land (105 million ha) is federally owned and managed by several agencies of the federal government, including: the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service; the US Department of the Interior US Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs; and, the US Department of Defense. In view of decentralized forest regulation and extensive private ownership, the actions of state and local governments and non-government parties, such as small non-industrial forest owners, industry, local communities and environmental advocates, have a profound effect on how forests are managed in the US and the progress made domestically towards forest conservation and sustainable management. In addition, US citizens are part of the natural resource public decision-making process at local, regional and national levels throughout the country.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

There are numerous organized advocates in the US for forest conservation and use that have a profound effect on US forestry and forest policy. This is illustrated by forest legislation that has been revised or enacted in the last decade alone includes the Forest Stewardship Act of 1990, the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1990, American the Beautiful Act of 1990, National Indian Forest Resources and Management Act of 1990, the 1995 and 1998 Farm Bills, and regular reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Under the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Act of 1974 (RPA), the US Forest Service publishes an "Assessment of US Forests" every ten years, with five-year updates. The corresponding programme, also published every five years, provides broad guidance for more specific national forest plans, statewide resource plans and research plans.

In July 1998, the President signed into law the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), which authorizes the reduction of official debt owed the US by countries with tropical forests in exchange for forest conservation measures. The law expands the 1992 Enterprise for the Americas Initiative which led to the signing of agreements with seven Latin American countries that were undertaking macroeconomic and structural adjustment reforms to cancel $875 million in their official debt, generating substantial local currency for child survival and environmental projects. Seven countries have requested debt buyback or debt-for-nature swaps under the TFCA; many more have expressed interest in debt reduction should funding become available.

There are a number of standards and certification schemes, such as the International Standards Organization and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), involved in a growing trend for wood products certification. This trend is reflected in the increasing number of lumber mills seeking and receiving "chain of custody" certificates, and a number of large corporate retailers such as Home Depot, the world’s third largest lumber retailer, selling certified wood products. To date, about 179 companies throughout the US carry FSC chain-of-custody certification and 52 US forest management companies are FSC-certified.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

The Forest Service is incorporating the concept of sustainable forest management, and criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, into this mandated planning. This includes maintenance of biodiversity, forest productivity, forest health, soil and water protection and maintaining a viable forest economy, as well as the policies and institutions necessary to implement the desires of society regarding forests.

The best example of policy following UNCED Forest Principles is the ecosystem management approach to the stewardship of public forest lands. The President's office has established an interagency coordinating committee for ecosystem management.

By using this approach, concerted efforts have been made in the Pacific Northwest to resolve issues centered on forest protection and timber harvest, the preservation of old growth ecosystems, scenic values, and the livelihoods of local communities. In April 1994, following a process of participation with all stakeholders and the completion of an environmental impact statement, the President's Forest Plan was adopted for all federal lands in the Pacific Northwest region.

The President's Forest Plan has three components: An Aquatic Conservation Strategy aimed at restoring and maintaining the ecological health of the region's watersheds, a Terrestrial Conservation Strategy aimed at maintaining late successional and old growth species habitat and the biological diversity associated with such ecosystems, and an initiative to help local communities adjust to new forest ecosystem protection management. The Fish and Wildlife Service is involved in the implementation of conservation and management programmes for forest dwelling neotropical birds. The Fish and Wildlife Service has developed partnerships with dozens of federal and State agencies, private conservation organizations and local governments to restore and manage forest habitats for these migratory species. The Texas Gulf Coast Wood Lot Initiative (important to migrating birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico) and the 12 million hectare Tennessee Valley Project are examples.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

Respect and recognition of traditional rights of indigenous people, including Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Natives, is an ongoing effort by the US. Since 1992 numerous actions have been taken by the Government, including issuance of Executive Orders regarding consultation and coordination with Indian governments and Indian sacred sites and of directives on government-to-government consultations with federally recognized tribal governments.

State Foresters are responsible for the establishment of State Stewardship Committees in every state, which include representation from a range of natural resource disciplines as well as the public and private sectors. Each state has also developed and is implementing state resource plans, which will ultimately bring millions of hectares of non-industrial private forest lands under stewardship management.

There are numerous organized advocates in the US for forest conservation and use that have a profound effect on US forestry and forest policy. For example:

The Nature Conservancy (TNC), an NGO dedicated to preservation of the nation’s biodiversity, has acquired over 3.64 million hectares of wildlife habitat and manages over 1,500 reserves. TNC is currently focusing on developing agreements with the business community and have come to an agreement with the timber company Westvaco to conduct a biodiversity inventory of its 562,000 hectares of land.

In October 1994 the American Forest and Paper Association (AFPA), which represents 95% of the industrial forest land in the US, approved a set of Sustainable Forestry Initiative Principles and Guidelines (SFI), which includes performance measures for reforestation and the protection of water quality, wildlife, visual quality, biological diversity and areas of special significance. In 1998 the programme was expanded to include public and non-industrial private lands.

The US-based International Wood Products Association (IWPA), which represents major timber exporting and importing companies, has established membership-approved voluntary "Codes of Conduct" for trade in wood products and forest management, similar to the SFI.

The National Woodland Owners Association, together with the Association of Consulting Foresters, has recently accepted sustainable forest management as a goal and the concept of certified wood products as a tool to accomplish that end. This is reflected in their "Green Tag Programme, which certifies wood products produced by small non-industrial wood producers.

The Conservation Fund is working with state foresters and recently acquired over 100,000 hectares of forest land in the states of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.  

Programmes and Projects 

Within the US Forest Service, the State and Private Division serves the nation’s non-federal forest owners with a number of focused programmes, including the Stewardship Incentives Programme (SIP), a companion to the Forest Stewardship Programme. The SIP, which began in 1992, provides cost-share assistance for private landowners to implement a broad range of practices recommended under their Stewardship Management plans, including wildlife and fish habitat improvement, soil and water improvement, forest recreation enhancement, riparian and wetlands protection and reforestation. Over 1.16 hectares of private lands were in stewardship management by 1998. Plans to fund this programme from other sources than federal funds are now being created.

The US Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is involved in the implementation of conservation and management programmes for North American forest dwelling neotropical birds. FWS has developed partnerships with dozens of federal and state agencies, private conservation organizations and local governments to restore and manage forest habitats for these migratory species. The Texas Gulf Coast Wood Lot Initiative (important to migrating birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico) and the 12-million hectare Tennessee Valley Project are working examples.

The US Forest Service has a national programme to address urban forest issues. It is a cooperative community-based programme designed to bring an understanding of natural resources concepts and careers to city dwellers. The first Urban Tree House Programme, inaugurated in Atlanta, Georgia, serves as a working model for several other cities interested in their own Programme, such as Washington, DC; Portland, Oregon; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, among others.

Status 

On October 13, 1999 President Clinton announced plans to protect an additional 16,194,000 ha of federally owned forestlands from road building and commercial development. A year-long process soliciting public comments will determine the specific areas selected. This is considered one of the biggest land conservation efforts in America’s history.

In September 1999 the US Forest Service issued new draft planning regulations that will give greater emphasis to the sustainable management of National Forest Systems. The regulations provide direction for working towards the goal of sustainability and acknowledge the importance of Criteria and Indicators for sustainable forest management, emphasizing monitoring activities designed to develop a desired future condition. Under these new regulations, the US Forest Service will allocate $11.5 million to engage more actively in partnerships with states, NGOs and industry in pursuit of its goals.

In July 1998 the Chief of the US Forest Service initiated the Roundtable on Sustainable Forests, bringing together representatives of federal, state and local government agencies, non-government organizations and industry to discuss how best to implement the Montreal Process C&I for both public and private forests. The Roundtable has drawn up a charter and plan of action, established working groups on communications/public outreach and technical issues. The communications working group has created a website and taken the Roundtable message to key domestic forestry and sustainability meetings. The technical working group is organizing workshops for early 2000 that will address each Criterion and its Indicators, assessing what has already been done on data collection and what still needs to be accomplished.

The United States is the fourth most forested country, with 8% or 300 million hectares (ha) of the world's forests, exceeded only by the Russian Federation, Brazil and Canada. These forests range from the dry chapparal "forests" of the Pacific southwest to the oak-hickory forest of the east and the old growth Douglas fir and Sitka spruce forests of the Pacific coast rainforest.

Forest Cover The success of US conservation policies put in place in response to public concerns at the turn of the century left the US well positioned to implement UNCED’s Agenda 21. An extensive educational, management and policy infrastructure now exists to support scientific forest management. The US experienced a net growth in the area covered by forests since the 1920s. Today, 33 % (298 million ha) of the US is forested, constituting two-thirds of the forest at the time of European settlement. Substantial natural and artificial reforestation has taken place and now exceeds forest temporarily lost from harvesting. Populations of many forest wildlife species have substantially increased, as have recreational and other public uses of forest land.

Wood production. The efficiency of wood utilization has greatly improved. The average volume of standing timber per acre has increased 32 % since World War II, and forest growth nationally currently exceeds harvest by 21 %. About 82 % of total wood harvest occurs on private lands. Federal, State and local governments spend $6.4 billion annually on forest management, including $3.2 billion by the US Forest Service, which manages 190 million acres of national forests and rangelands and employs 32,000 people. State forestry agencies assist non-industrial private forest land owners to manage their land in a sustainable manner, producing multiple resources. Government, universities and industry are all actively involved in research to produce faster and better growing forests. New and innovative ways are constantly being developed to use wood products more efficiently.

Forestry profession The Forestry profession is changing in the US. Since 1968 the number of foresters graduating with associate or bachelor’s degrees has dropped by half. This trend may not reflect a decline in interest in forestry but rather an expansion and diversification of natural resource management degrees related to forestry, such as conservation biology and ethnobotany. The last decades have seen a growing interest by students and employers in recruiting young professionals with broader resource skills to address ecosystem management. The Society of American Foresters, the US professional society for foresters, calculates that there are approximately 62,000 professional foresters working in the field and that over time this number will decline but the professional training of the average forester and the number of forestry related professionals will broaden.

Challenges

Forest health Forests in the US are considered productive and provide for most of the country’s needs. Although there are areas of local concern regarding forest loss, deforestation is not perceived as a national problem. However, current assessments of the health and conditions of US forests show that in some cases resource conditions are not satisfactory. For example, tree mortality as a result of exotic forest disease is so extensive that the composition of forest ecosystems across the US has changed. Acid-forming airborne chemicals are having observable impacts on tree health. Large forested landscapes have an unnatural distribution of trees of different ages because of previous harvesting practices. Although older age forests are important to the biodiversity of forest ecosystems, the growing number of aging and overstocked forest landscapes are becoming vulnerable to insects and disease. The national list of threatened and endangered species is increasing and some fish habitat populations are limited by problems of water quality and quantity.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

The cooperative function of the US Forest Service and the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) is to educate, train and assist private landowners and the States in conservation and sustainable management of forest lands. The USDA CSREES Logger Education to Advance Professionalism Programme (LEAP) promotes silviculture and environmental education for loggers to better understand the logic and philosophy involved in sound forest management.

Federal forestry extension programmes are more than equally matched by state university and private funds. State forestry agencies receive federal funding to provide incentives and training to landowners through the Forest Stewardship Programme. NGO forest owners associations, such as the National Woodland Owners Association, Forest Landowners Association and the American Tree Farm Programme, provide both continuing education and professional forestry counsel. Wildlife, recreation and fish conservation NGOs such as the Izaak Walton League, Ducks Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation are doing similar work.

The US Forest Service has initiated a national programme to establish a network of Urban Tree Houses. The Urban Tree House is a cooperative community-based programme designed to bring an understanding of natural resource concepts and careers to urban children. The first Urban Tree House, inaugurated in Atlanta, serves as a working model for several other US cities that are interested in operating their own Urban Tree House Programmes such as Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, among other locations. The US Extension Service's Logger Education to Advance Professionalism Programme (LEAP) promotes silviculture and environmental education for loggers so they better understand the logic and philosophy involved in sound forest management. Currently, the majority of timber harvesting operations on private lands are carried out without the assistance or guidance of a professional forester of any kind. It is estimated that as much as eighty percent of all harvesting operations are planned and executed by only the logger, who is often unaware of the impact logging activities have on soil or water quality. Another institutional improvement has been the use of electronic mail networks which is proving to be a very powerful communication tool for NGOs, government agencies and business.

Information 

Domestic

International

Research and Technologies 

 No information is available.

Financing 

Funding for forest management at the state and federal levels has not increased in the last few years, as of April 1997. With inflation, actual budgets have decreased. Federal, state and local annual spending on forest management is approximately $6.4 billion.

In 1998 the US Department of Energy and AF&PA expanded their cooperative "Technology Vision and Research Agenda 2020" to include the US Forest Service. Agenda 2020 is designed to promote sustainable forestry practices across the US by identifying and funding high priority research projects aimed at increased efficiency, biotechnology and sustainable forestry. Thus far, Agenda 2020 has attracted $13 million in joint public-private financing, including eight new projects funded with US Government support. A fourth round of projects was proposed in March 1999.

In October 1998 the Chief of the US Forest Service allocated $2 million in grant funding under the "Natural Resources Agenda for the 21st Century," a major natural resource initiative that will use sustainable forest ecosystem management as its unifying theme, with special emphasis on restoring degraded watersheds and improving recreation services for visitors to national forests.

Cooperation

The United States also has major interests at the international level. With its vast forest resources, the US is today the world's largest producer, consumer and trader in wood products, accounting for 15% of world trade in forests products. The forest products sector, although small in comparison to the rest of the US economy, is significant on a global scale, as demonstrated by the fact that the US exports and imports of wood products total $150 billion yearly. In addition, the US provides substantial forest-related assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other federal agencies, as well as through contributions to international organizations and financial institutions, such as the World Bank, and various innovative debt reduction initiatives. Several of the largest multinational forest and paper companies are US-owned, and many US-based environmental organizations and academic institutions undertake forest field activities and projects abroad.

U.S. bilateral assistance, through USAID, USDA and other federal agencies includes more than 150 projects in 95 countries throughout the world. Of particular interest is the focus on assistance to Russia which possesses 20 percent of the world's forests. The Peace Corp's environmental programmes have been expanded to include 900 volunteers working in 51 countries through all regions of the world. Nearly 50 percent of these volunteers are assigned to forestry related projects. As a member of the North American Forestry Commission (NAFC), institutional strengthening and capacity building for sustainable forestry has been a focus through training and technical exchanges. General projects include training and cooperating in fire suppression, cooperation to develop monitoring projects for migrating species, increasing the populations of endangered species, e.g. protection of monarch butterfly habitat, reintroducing the Mexican Grey Wolf, and improving neotropical bird habitat. Participatory management, important in the United States, has become the mechanism for including the perspectives and needs of all members of local communities. The International Intertribal Conference on Sustainable Forest Management, jointly sponsored by the US Forest Service and USAID, also promotes participation and sustainable forest management by indigenous people.

The US is active in a wide variety of intergovernmental agreements, organizations, initiatives and other fora that undertake forest related work and policy discussions. Key among them is the UN CSD Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF). The US is an active member of the 12-country Montreal Process Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests and hosted the 11th Meeting of the Working Group in November 1999 in Charleston, South Carolina. The US initiated the G-8 Action Programme on Forests, which world leaders launched at the Denver Summit in 1997 and endorsed a year later. A progress report on implementation of the G-8 Action Programme will be submitted to G-8 leaders at the Okinawa Summit in 2000.

The US Government is committed to the goal of forest conservation and sustainable management at home and abroad. International political commitments such as the Montreal Process on Criteria and Indicators, the G-8 Action Programme on Forests and the Proposals for Action agreed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF), as well as a number of national initiatives, provide an action-oriented framework for meeting this goal.

The US is actively pressing the G-8 and other industrialized countries to establish environmental guidelines for export credit agencies along the lines of the "Environmental Procedures and Guidelines" used by the Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank of the United States to evaluate applications for financial support for foreign projects sponsored by US business. Proposed forest sector projects, such as pulp and paper mills, are evaluated by EX-IM for ecological soundness and mitigation measures. Project sponsors are required to develop forest management plans that considers, among other things, impacts on water resources, endangered/threatened species, and local communities from construction and operation.

The US Initiative on Joint Implementation (USIJI), part of the US Government’s Climate Change Action Plan, encourages US businesses and non-governmental organizations to use their resources and innovative technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable development worldwide. The USIJI, working with partners in the US and 14 other countries, supports projects dealing with, among others, carbon sequestration, reforestation, national park preservation, reduced impact logging and community silviculture. For example, US and Dutch power corporations and IWPA (International Wood Products Association), are working with the Sabah Foundation in Sabah, Malaysia on demonstration projects to improve forest management practices while contributing to carbon emission reductions.

USAID and the US Department of Commerce are working with AF&PA under the auspices of AF&PA’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) to restore areas in Central America devastated by Hurricane Mitch in May 1999. This partnership will include a pilot programme on the Honduran Island of Guanaja designed to establish the infrastructure needed for long-term sustainable forest management.

In 1998 the US Government, through USAID and contributions to the International Tropical Timber Organization, supported initial projects on low impact logging in tropical forests of Brazil and Indonesia, which are being implemented by the Tropical Forest Foundation, an NGO comprised of representatives from industry, environmental groups, professional forestry associations, and academia.

In June 1998 the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), working in cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, increased the number of ports of entry available to accept timber species listed on CITES appendices to facilitate and respond to the Appendix III listings of Swietenia Macrophylla (a commercially traded tropical timber species) undertaken by Bolivia, Brazil and other major range states.

In 1998 USAID, through its Proarca Capas programme, provided financial support to undertake studies in Central America and Mexico on the distribution and status of mahogany (Swietenia Macrophylla) harvesting activities, illegal logging and illegal trade.

The US considers all the above as contributory to US implementation of the IPF Proposals for Action, both at home and abroad. The US Government has also initiated a process of consultation with stakeholders on implementing the IPF Proposals for Action. As part of this process, the US is exploring linkages between the IPF Proposals for Action and the Montreal Process C&I. A report on the status of US implementation, including next steps, will be developed.

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This information was provided by the Government of United States of America to the 5th and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: December 1999.

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FRESHWATER

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

In the United States, 32 federal executive agencies in 10 cabinet departments, including the Executive Office of the President, are actively involved in the policies and programmes to manage and protect the quality and supply of the Nation's freshwater resources - 25 separate water programmes in all. Each agency approaches the task from a particular perspective based on its legislative mandates. 

In Congress, on the legislative side of the federal system, 12 standing committees in the House and Senate have direct jurisdiction over various components of federal water resource policy, and this excludes the responsibilities of the Appropriation Committees, the Budget Committees, the Ways and Means and the Finance Committees, or the House Government Reform and Oversight, and the Senate Government Affairs Committees which all have ongoing interests in water. In essence, the complex federal executive responsibilities for water resources reflect the multiple congressional legislative responsibilities, which in turn mirror the multiple competing interests for water in the U.S.

The major federal water resource agencies are the following :

Water resources authorities and responsibilities are shared by many different government agencies who coordinate informally among themselves. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Executive Office of the President serves as the principal federal agency concerned with water resource coordination, with preparation of the President's Budget annually, and with the review and coordination of all water programmes, as well as with all regulations and Executive Orders.

Disaster preparedness is the joint responsibility of local, state, and federal government. Officials at the local level have primary responsibility. At the federal level, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), working in conjunction with other federal agencies that have specific preparedness authorities, has the responsibility to coordinate the overall federal preparedness effort. The Corps of Engineers has principal responsibility for preparedness for floods. Other agencies, such as the Bureau of Reclamation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, have similar but small flood preparedness assistance programmes.

For droughts, no single agency has responsibility for coordinating the federal effort, although FEMA has been tasked to do so during several recent droughts. Numerous agencies have authorities that may be applied under certain specific conditions.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

There are more than 200 sets of federal rules, regulations, and laws which provide the legal framework for freshwater. The competing interests for water affects all economic, social and environmental activities today.

 In fact, most decisions relating to surface water uses are made at the state level in the United States according to a variety of common law and state statutory schemes that differ greatly from state to state. State law on surface water can be grouped generally into three doctrines of water law: riparian, prior appropriation, and hybrid systems. Groundwater decisions and disputes in the United States are also largely handled at the state level, again generally according to common law and state law. Often state surface and groundwater statutes are managed independently of each other and thus may not link surface and groundwater resources activities. In addition, a number of states have entered into compacts (specific legal agreements between states) to allocate and manage water. Examples include the Colorado River Compact in the West and Connecticut River Compact in the East.

The legal and regulatory framework for water management includes the following:

Although state law generally controls the use of water and the states are pre-eminent in determining water rights, the federal government has a significant role to play in water allocation because of its financial support of major water development projects, its ownership of vast federal lands, and the primacy of the federal government in matters concerning navigation and international treaty obligations. Much of the federal law on water allocation is derived from the recognized right of the federal government to regulate uses of water that would interfere with navigation.

The Safe Drinking Water Act does not require water providers to have disaster preparedness plans. Fortunately, however, most states do require these, specifying communications plans, coordination efforts, provisions of alternative supplies, spare parts, and so forth. EPA and the Corps of Engineers are frequently brought in to advise state.

The Clean Water Act does not require waste water treatment providers to have disaster preparedness plans. However, treatment plants constructed under Title II (Construction Grants Programmess) were required to design facilities so that treatment would be maintained up to the 100 year flood level. The treatment plant owners are also required to maintain disaster insurance as part of the grant conditions and many plants have developed contingency plans in the event of a disaster. Under certain conditions Title VI (State Resolving Loan Fund) the Clean Water Act, may be used by the states to provide funds to help local officials reconstruct facilities damaged by natural disasters.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

Pricing policy:

There is no single pricing policy for water in the United States. In most cases water for municipal and industrial (M&I) purposes is provided by local entities and pricing is established by that entity. The fact that Americans excpect to receive water of the highest quality, at the lowest price, and in unlimited quantity - everywhere and at all time should affect pricing, but that is so often not the case. Generally, it is federal and state water subsidies that change this economic equation. Thus, improper pricing of water, rather than inadequacy of supply, is most often the reason the United States experience water shortages.

In recent years at the federal level, there are some standard economic and pricing policies which are generally adhered to, as follows:

Traditional federal water agencies have slowly been transforming their focus from project construction to systems management. On a related manner, during its consideration of setting drinking water standards, EPA does consider the costs of treatment as one important input to setting standards which protect public health.

For disasters stemming from oil spills or releases of hazardous substances into freshwater, the United States has promulgated a National Contingency Plan (40 CFR Part 300) that maps out the responsibilities and response authorities of various federal agencies including EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard to such disasters.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

All citizens have extensive legal rights to fully participate in rule making and decision making under federal and state laws in the United States. These rights are part of the Administrative Procedures Act , the National Environmental Policy Act , other public participation and right-to-know sections of many state and federal statutes. EPA works with a designated National Drinking Water Advisory Committee which represents all major interests among the Committee's five designated Working Groups. EPA has, in addition, set up more than 30 recognized stakeholder coordination groups focusing on all aspects of data collection, research, standard-setting, outreach, and so forth. EPA also uses its Web pages to assure wide dissemination of its policies, both during development, as well as during implementation.

Programmes and Projects 

In addition to federal level activities, there are hundreds of state and local water programmes being carried out with the cooperation of nongovernmental organizations, private sector enterprises, and individual citizens.

Status 

Broadly stated, federal water development policy has been successful in economic and social terms during the past 200 years. By the mid-1980's the federal government had spent $400 billion for capital investments addressing water resource development, developed over 40,000 kilometers of inland waterways, built 83,000 reservoirs and dams, installed over 88,000 mega-watts of hydroelectric capacity. More than 52,000 public water utilities supplied 86 billion liters of freshwater each day to domestic users, more than 23 million hectares of land were irrigated, more than 15,000 municipal sewage treatment plants were in operation, over 60,000 water pollution control permits (end-of-pipe) had been issued to industry and other point sources of pollution around the country, and the frequency of flooding on several thousand streams had been curbed.

End-of-pipe water pollution has been greatly decreased as a result of federal control and financing during the last 25 years, although it remains a serious problem in many areas. However, non-point source water pollution from agriculture, suburban development, and urban runoff has grown rapidly in recent years and is not regulated at the federal level. While the United States struggles to provide so much water to so many at such a low cost, nearly 40 percent of the rivers and lakes remain polluted to varying degrees; groundwater in many areas is subsiding; many of the fish and wildlife are endangered; developers and private citizens continue to build homes and businesses in the path of devastating floods; new water supplies are limited; sewage systems are expensive, and public funds are becoming increasingly scare for new water project development and for ongoing management of existing freshwater resources. Cleaning up the past water resource problems is expensive and will continue into the foreseeable future in the United States.

The good news is that as a nation, the United States is using less water today. Total water withdrawals for offstream use were 10 percent less during 1995 than during 1980. This is a significant decline considering that the population increased 16 percent during the same period. The decline signals that freshwater resources are managed more effectively, that water use does respond to economic, environmental, and regulatory factors, and that the public has an awareness about water and conservation issues.

While significant progress has been made, much remains to be done to sustainably manage the national freshwater resources. As a matter of fact, more than 60 percent of the 87 million hectares of inland wetlands in the country have been converted to other uses, nearly 50 percent of the country's 2.4 million kilometers of streams and an unknown percentage of the nation's groundwater are polluted to a significant degree, and the nation continues to experience ever-increasing flood damage losses, particularly during the last several decades. A significant number of freshwater plants and animals are now threatened or endangered and "dead zones" are just now being discovered along the coastlines.

During the twentieth century, seven different types of arrangements have been tried in the U.S. for jointly planning and managing water in its large federal system and varied hydrologic conditions. The early twentieth century was dominated by two approaches: inter-state compacts (which are similar to treaties among sovereign entities) and adversarial court cases. As population in the U.S. shifted, as Native American tribal demands grew, and as new uses (such as in stream flow and environmental quality) appeared, allocations under compacts proved too inflexible to be effective. In the 1980's, the U.S. moved away from this approach toward the market norm. Attempts were made to use more realistic pricing which was closer to marginal costs for water through a variety of market mechanism.

Today as a result of severe flooding losses (in the billions of dollars annually for the last several years), increased loss of biodiversity (protection of threatened and endangered species), and the multiple needs for more water, interest is emerging in additional water resources coordination.

Pollution prevention is becoming an increasingly important goal of agencies, because certain increasing forms of pollution are too costly and difficult to clean up after the fact. While the Clean Water Act controls pollution from pipes, there is no federal regulation of polluted run-off or groundwater contamination. Nutrient runoff from farmland along the Mississippi River and its tributaries has caused a large area dead zone of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, severely damaging the fishing industry. Groundwater/drinking water contamination by pesticides and herbicides in the agricultural regions is a growing problem. Farmers are being encouraged to plant buffer strips along stream banks to control erosion and run-off, and they are being encouraged to minimize chemical use and switch to chemicals that have a shorter life.

The design capacity of all the publicly owned waste water treatment facilities in the United States in 1996 was 160 thousand cubic meters per day. The average flow treated per day in 1996 was 122 thousand cubic meters. Based on U.S. Geological Survey information in the United States, about 3-5 percent of all the waste water flows are recycled. Under the Clean Water Act all discharges to surface waters of the U.S. must be treated to the level of secondary treatment. In 1996 about 72 percent of the U.S. population received publicly owned central collection and waste water treatment. The waste water from more than 90 percent of the population receiving collection was treated to at least secondary treatment level.

Challenges

Decision-making is becoming more difficult today in federal and state water agencies with increased law suits, downsizing, fewer dollars to spend, micro-management by legislative bodies, and increasing demands coming from all directions - water users, municipal interests, agricultural interests, development interests, environmentalist, and the public. In summary, the United States has made great progress in managing its freshwater resources during the last 200 years, yet the country faces many very significant challenges in water as it moves into the 21st Century.

Today as a result of severe flooding losses (in the billions of dollars annually for the last several years), increased loss of biodiversity (protection of threatened and endangered species), and the multiple needs for more water, interest is emerging in additional water resources coordination. Examples such as the Everglades in southern Florida, the Bay-Delta in central California, and Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania along the mid-Atlantic coast, serve as model approaches to coordinated, sustainable, integrated management of water and related land resources, and ecosystems in the United States.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available.

Information 

Approximately 1,100 sources of water-related information are presently available across the nation with few apparent data gaps, but the present information system falls short of effectively distributing the water resources information that it has, although there are exceptions. This is a continuing shortcoming, a result of ineffective programmes coordination under the diverse federal water resource mandates.

At present, the U.S. Geological Survey manages three principal federal data bases: water quality at fixed monitoring stations, reconnaissance during storms and floods, and cause and effect studies on specific reaches of streams and rivers. In addition, USGS is the repository for streamflow and groundwater data and has the ability to access a variety of water-related data bases from other sources. Water use data are collected, compiled, and reported at 5-year intervals by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a water information data storage and retrieval system which contains water quality and quantity data for more than 750,000 sites around the nation. The EPA system is called STORET. For drinking water, data on compliance with drinking water regulations are collected by state agencies and aggregated by EPA in a system denoted as the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS). Financial, administrative and managerial data on public systems are collected every few years by EPA's Community Water System Survey. Infrastructure needs are also surveyed periodically. EPA has also created an Internet site at: www.epa.gov/surf that allows anyone to obtain information about any watershed in the United States. EPA's Office of Water is located on the Internet at: www.epa.gov/water. Efforts are under way to link the vast water data bases so that water information can be used for decision making at all levels of government.

The third major water-related data system is administered by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce which has responsibility for managing meteorological information central to the hydrological cycle

Research and Technologies 

The Clean Water Act is considered to be a technology-based statute. In addition to the BAT national standards, states are required to implement control strategies for so-called "toxic hot spots" -- waters expected to remain polluted by toxic chemicals even after industrial dischargers have installed the best available cleanup technologies required under the law. States are required to develop water quality-based standards for all bodies of water within a state. A National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDEs) permit may include limits based on these water quality standards when a more stringent limitation is needed to protect local water quality than is included in the technology-based standards. Certain responsibilities are delegated to the states, and this Act, like other environmental laws, embodies a philosophy of federal-state partnership in which the federal government conducts research and sets the national standards for pollution abatement while many states carry out day-to-day activities of implementation and enforcement. Here again, states perform many of these tasks while the federal government retains and exercises a role in both implementation and enforcement. As of the end of 1997, 41 states had delegated authority for the NPDES programme.

Financing 

The U.S. federal capital investment in water resources has steadily decreased during the past 20 years. Most of the spending on non-capital expenditures goes to maintaining an aging water infrastructure. Most of the budgets of the traditional infrastructure agencies are now going to operations and maintenance.

Title II of the CWA established a grant programme for the construction of wastewater treatment works. The 1987 Amendments replaced this programme with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programme. Under this programme, the federal government provides grants to the states to capitalize these revolving loan funds, with a 20 percent matching fund requirement from the states. The SRF provides low-interest loans to municipalities to construct and upgrade wastewater treatment works. The federal government has provided $68 billion from 1972 through 1998 for these two programmes. The Clean Water Act also regulates discharges into wetlands, both freshwater and coastal.

The percentage of costs recovered for drinking water varies by size of the system. In 1995, while only about 60 percent of the very smallest systems recovered their costs, the number of profitable systems rose in the larger size categories (serving over 50,000 customers per system) that serve the vast majority of U.S. citizens. Revenues for approximately 84 percent of publicly owned and 94 percent of privately owned systems were sufficient to meet or exceed expenses. Financial security for the larger systems has improved over the last 20 years, in contrast to the rather static picture for the smaller systems.

Under provisions of the Clean Water Act, federal funding contributed about one-half to three-quarters of the investment cost of local waste water treatment facilities of those communities receiving grant assistance during the period from 1972 to 1998. During this period federal funds provided nearly $68 billion in federal assistance for the construction of local waste water treatment systems; and state and local governments contributed more than $20 billion. A portion of these federal funds helped poorer communities provide basic sewage treatment. Since 1990, EPA's State Revolving Fund has provided low interest loans for the construction of waste water facilities.

In the United States there is a wide variety of private sector involvement in water supply services. In 1995, approximately 34.3 million people in the U.S. received drinking water from privately owned systems, as compared to more than six times that figure being supplied from publicly owned systems. Privately owned water systems in the U.S. represent a major financial component of the utility business, with over $14 billion in annual revenues in 1995. Private financing contributions to projects is now also growing

According to EPA's 1995 Community Water System Survey, the $20 billion U.S. drinking water industry continues to make large investments for water quality improvements (averaging 19 %), repairs or replacement (averaging 31 %), and system expansion (averaging 50 %). The average "large system" serving over 100,00 people has invested nearly $54 million in these areas since 1987. EPA and the water industry are concerned, however, over the costs needed to maintain and improve drinking water services to the public. EPA estimated infrastructure needs of $138.4 billion over the next 20 years (in constant 1995 dollars), comprising needs of $77.2 billion (56 percent) for transmission and distribution systems, $36.2 billion (26 percent) for treatment, $12.1 billion (9 percent) for peak storage facilities, $11 billion (8 percent) for source rehabilitation and development, and $1.9 billion (1 percent) for all other needs.

Over the next twenty years it is expected that the percentage of the U. S. population receiving central waste water treatment will increase from 72 percent (1996) to about 88 percent (2016). The cost needed over the this period to reach this level of treatment is $120 billion in 1996 dollars. This is broken down as follows: $44 billion for treatment; $10 billion for sewer repairs and rehabilitation; $21 billion for new sewers; and $45 billion to correct combined sewer overflows.

Today the United States uses in excess of 1.8 million liters of freshwater per capita per year. This amount of water is currently made available at a low price averaging 5 cents per 1000 liters, and most of the water goes to agriculture. Costs to the typical U.S. household for drinking water are higher due to expenses for treatment and distribution, yet they are still affordable and represent only about one percent of median household income.

Cooperation

The United States is party to two bilateral agreements concerning the use of international watercourses: the U.S.-Canada International Joint Commission (IJC) under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 , and International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) under the U.S.-Mexico Water Treaty of 1944 . In addition, EPA is undertaking additional actions on the Mexican Border Infrastructure under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The IJC acts as a quasi-judicial body to consider applications for approval to build and operate certain works in boundary water and in rivers that flow across the boundary. The IJC also, at the request of the parties, examines and provides non-binding recommendations on specific transboundary issues of mutual concern. In addition the IJC has critical duties under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement . This has been a highly successful effort to combat toxic contamination, promote an ecosystem approach to stewardship of the resource, and press for remedial action.

On the southern border, under the U.S.-Mexico Water Treaty of 1944, the two countries have established an International Boundary and Water Commission to address bilateral boundary and water problems. The IBWC divides the use of these international waters, benefiting peoples in both countries economically and socially. The IBWC has constructed and operates water conservation and flood control projects, and it constructs and maintains boundary markers on the land boundary and at international bridges. As a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Congress provided $450 million to EPA to be used in support of drinking water and sewage infrastructure projects on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

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This information was provided by the Government of the United States to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1998.

For national information on freshwater, click here.

For information about any watershed in the United States, click here.

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LAND MANAGEMENT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

Land and growth management in the United States is largely addressed at the local and state levels, driven by a wide-range of issues and concerns. Many of these concerns in recent years are associated with the concept of "sprawl" and pit expansion of suburban and peri-urban development against protection of open space areas, agricultural activities, and aesthetic values. Local and state policies to respond to these concerns are diverse.

Many federal activities, policies and programmes affect rates and patterns of growth and the ability of local and state governments to address them. Periodically, the question arises as to whether the federal government should take steps to influence growth patterns and support local and state efforts to respond to growth management concerns, especially with respect to sprawl.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

Recently, the Clinton Administration has attempted to address the issue through a nationwide "Livability Agenda" that promotes, among other things, the concept of "smart growth". The aim of the agenda is to help communities across America grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable growth. Under the agenda, the Administration is proposing new investments to provide communities with ways to preserve green space, ease traffic congestion, and pursue regional smart growth strategies.

The United States Government, pursuant to the 1996 Farm Bill and earlier legislation, maintains a "Conservation Reserve Programme" which enables private farm producers to bid to retire highly erodible or environmentally sensitive cropland, usually for 10 years. Participants receive rental or cost sharing payments and technical assistance for this programme through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As of late 1998, the Conservation Reserve Programme contained approximately 30.5 million acres.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

THE LIVABILITY AGENDA: A NEW U.S. INITIATIVE TO CONSERVE LAND RESOURCES

Over the past few years, the Clinton Administration has attempted to address land degradation concerns related to either to urban areas under a nascent "brownfields" programme, as well as "green communities " programmes and "smart growth" concepts related to both urban and "sprawl" concerns. In January 1999, in an effort to coalesce and build upon these early notions of promoting land rehabilitation and conservation efforts, the Clinton Administration announced initiatives that address the related land management issues of resource protection, sprawl and growth management. A "Livability Agenda" and "Lands Legacy Initiative" were unveiled as a means to help states and local communities address burgeoning land management challenges. The "Livability Agenda" would:

The "Lands Legacy Initiative", among other things, would:

The Congress is not expected to adopt the proposal submitted by the Clinton Administration. Nevertheless, the Administration believes that the growth management proposals that it has put forward respond to increasing public interest in "sprawl" and other land policy challenges. According to a recent Brookings Institution report, such issues, often characterized as a "quality of life issues" were addressed in 240 referenda in 31 states last year, and 72 percent of these were reportedly passed in the November 1998 election.

Further and more comprehensive information on the Clinton Administration’s livable communities initiatives can be found on the web at www.livablecommunities.gov.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

As of 1996, only 10 states had statewide growth management plans with land management components. Another two had growth management plans limited to coastal areas alone. One state, Maryland, received considerable publicity when it adopted a "smart growth" strategy under legislation adopted in 1997. Under this legislation, state road and sewer project spending to assist development is to be concentrated both to revitalize approved urban areas and to curb sprawl by minimizing spending in other areas of the state. In addition, more than $70 million is to be used by 2002 to purchase development rights on land with high environmental value in the state. The State of California, with the California Coastal Conservancy and Coastal Commission and the State of New York with its Hudson River Valley Greenway Act are also touted as examples of states trying to address land management challenges in a sustainable manner. The State of Colorado also had an initiative to allocate funds from the state lottery for land acquisition, easements, and other conservation measures.

There are also numerous initiatives at local levels throughout the United States that have has land management and growth as key issues. Included among these were the Sustainable City Plan for Berkeley, California, the Sustainable Cambridge (Massachusetts) coalition, Sustainable Chattanooga (Tennessee), Sustainable Seattle, and many others. The National Association of Counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors cooperate in maintaining a "Joint Center for Sustainable Communities" that seeks, among other things, to encourage more communities to become sustainable through responsible land use design, brownfields redevelopment, appropriate transportation, "true cost" accounting, and other smart growth initiatives.

Programmes and Projects 

NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION ON AMERICA’S PRIVATE LANDS

Conservation of soil and water resources has been a public policy issue in the United States for over 60 years. U.S. agricultural exports expanded rapidly through the 1970s to record levels, and U.S. producers responded by bringing additional land into production. Three problems ensued. One was high levels of soil erosion, the second was overproduction, and the third was providing water to agriculture in sufficient quantity and quality to enhance production. Federal programmes before 1985 allowed U.S. farmers to receive payments for acres not planted, referred to as annual set asides, but did not include any multi-year efforts that could provide more sustained benefits for conservation purposes.

In 1985, Congress enacted a farm act that created the "Conservation Reserve Programme" (CRP) to be managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The aim of the CRP was to reduce excessive erosion, stabilize farm prices, and slow excess production. Almost 34 million acres were enrolled in the programme by private producers from 1986 to 1990, under an enrollment cap of 38 million acres. During this time, the USDA continued to adjust the programme’s formula for accepting bids from producer’s who wanted to join the programme by placing a growing emphasis on environmental benefits. After passage of the 1990 Farm Act, USDA started to compare bids using an evolving formula called the "Environmental Benefits Index" (EBI).

In 1996, the Congress passed the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 – more commonly referred to as the 1996 Farm Act. Under this law, provisions were made to either reauthorize or introduce new programmes. The CPR and Wetlands Reserve programmes were among those programmes reauthorized and readjusted, while new programmes included the Environmental Quality Incentives Programme (EQIP). The EQIP programme’s aims are to provide $200 million per year to be split evenly between crop and livestock producers in addressing a range of conservation problems. While the EQIP programme was to be managed by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the CRP was to be once again administered by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

As noted above, private farm producers are allowed to bid to retire highly erodible or environmentally sensitive cropland, usually for 10 years (or longer under limited circumstances). Participants receive rental or cost sharing payments and technical assistance for this programme through the FSA. As of late 1998, the Conservation Reserve Programme contained approximately 30.5 million acres.

The CRP also has two other important ways to enroll land. One allows continuous sign-up for individuals who wish to enroll portions of their fields with particularly high environmental values. The second way is a state-initiated enhancement programme under which higher rents are paid to attract eligible land. In 1997, the State of Maryland became the first state approved for this programme. Maryland will contribute financial resources in an attempt to enroll 100,000 acres of stream buffers, restored wetlands, and highly erodible lands near streams in the Chesapeake Bay drainage. (The Chesapeake Bay is the largest east U.S. coast estuary and is subject to harmful nutrient overloading brought about, in part, from agricultural run-off.)

Under the revised CRP, there is a total maximum enrollment cap of 36.4 million acres and no one single county in any given state may exceed a participation rate of 25 percent. Numerous plains state counties are currently at capped enrollment.

Status 

LAND UNDER FEDERAL JURISDICTION

While the overwhelming majority of Americans reside in urban and suburban areas, the United States remains primarily an agricultural land. Nearly 71 percent of land in the United States is in private hands or under state and local authorities. The remaining 29 percent of the land (657 million acres) is in federal hands and is administered primarily by four federal agencies: the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Forest Service (FS) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The majority of these federal lands (92 percent) are in 12 western states, including Alaska. Altogether, the following four agencies manage over 95 percent of federal land in the United States and the Clinton Administration has sought to ensure that all manage lands in a sustainable manner involving public participation and stakeholders at local levels. And, of equal importance, are managed in accordance with a range of U.S. environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The NPS, FWS and BLM also are involved in managing three special management systems on the lands that they administer that have been created to protect particular features or characteristics. These include: the National Wilderness Preservation System (104 million acres); the National Trails System (20 trails totaling nearly 40,000 miles); and, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (155 rivers totaling over 10,800 miles).

There are also sometimes transfers of land between the agencies. For example, roughly 3 million acres of land were transferred from the BLM to the NPS due to the enactment of the California Desert Protection Act of 1994, an act designed to help better conserve environmentally sensitive desert areas in California.

Several other U.S. agencies are involved in administering approximately 4 percent of U.S. federal land. These include the Department of the Defense (DOD), the Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Bureaus of Reclamation and Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and others. DOD has both pollution prevention and conservation programmes established for lands that it manages and DOD installations are required to produce Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans and Integrated Cultural Resource Management Plans for the lands that they manage. DOD also maintains two funding programmes, a sustainable forest management programme for DOD lands and a small-grants programme for streamside restoration. DOE, together with all other US federal agencies must follow NEPA requirements pertaining to environmental impact assessments related to land use decisions. The Bureau of Reclamation’s mission is to "manage develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American people. In addition to managing reservoirs in western United States, the Bureau of reclamation also manages over 300 recreation areas for public benefit.

DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has jurisdiction over more than 56 million acres, of which more than 45 million acres are under tribal trust and about 10 million acres are individually owned. DOI is legally obligated to ensure that American Indian and Alaska Native resources and lands are properly managed, protected and conserved. DOI bureaus provide an array of services to American Indians. For example, in addition to BIA’s activities, the BLM provides survey and mineral management programmes for tribes, DOI’s Office of Surface Mining provides tribal grants for reclamation of abandoned mines and restoration of water quality affected by acid mine drainage. The Bureau of Reclamation provides financial and technical assistance to the tribes in the planning, design, construction, and operation of water resource needs on reservations. FWS partners with tribes in restoring and improving fishery resources, training conservation law enforcement officers from Native American tribes, and technical assistance for tribal resource conservation and management plans. DOI’s U.S. Geological Service conducts research on water and mineral resources of environmental, economic or subsistence importance to Indians. NPS provides technical assistance to tribes on preservation of their endangered heritage and sacred places.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), through its Urban and Economic Development Division, is coordinating the "Smart Growth Network", a coalition of private sector, public sector and NGO partners "seeking to create smart growth in neighborhoods, communities and regions across the United States." The partnership programme will conduct several projects to encourage more environmentally responsible land use, regional growth and development. USEPA is also involved in helping direct a "Brownfields National Partnership Partnership Action Agenda". This Agenda calls for the selection of 10 showcase communities across the nation to demonstrate that through cooperation, federal, state and local and private efforts can be concentrated around brownfields to produce environmental cleanup, stimulate economic development, and revitalize communities. The Agenda encompasses more than 100 commitments from more than 25 organizations, including more than 15 U.S. agencies. These commitments represent a $300 million investment in brownfields communities by the Federal government.

USEPA also sponsors a green community programme, including a "Green Communities" assistance kit that takes users through a five-step process towards achieving "Green Community" status. A Green Community is one that provides open space, complies with environmental regulations, reduces consumption of natural resources and practices pollution prevention, actively involves all citizens and incorporates local values in decision-making and encourages all elements of civil society to work together with government to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy and a high quality of life.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also uses some of the core programmes that it funds to support livability and regional development initiatives, including "smart growth"and brownfields projects, at the levels of neighborhood, city, region and state. HUD’s strategy is to lead in three dimensions: (1) identifying and working to promote livability and effective regional action; (2) adding new activities and policies that promote sustainable, equitable; and (3) building knowledge and constituencies so that local choices are both informed and responsive to all stakeholders.

Information 

A coalition of developers, planners government officials, lending institutions, community development organizations, architects, environmentalists and community activists are part of the "mart Growth Network" (www.smartgrowth.org). This group hopes to encourage more environmentally and fiscally responsible land use, growth and development around the U.S. It provides a forum for facilitating smart growth in neighborhoods, communities, and regions. Those who become members of the Network reportedly receive a membership kit featuring two primers – one on "Best Development Practices" and "Why Smart Growth". The group has also produced a video for educating citizen groups or city councils about smart growth concepts and relevant land use and development issues.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

No information is available.

Cooperation

With the support of HUD, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, and other agencies together with the American Planning Association (APA) has launched a "Growing Smart" initiative. The initiative will be pursued in three phases. The first phase focuses on intergovernmental relationships and works to help design statutes that enhance regional planning and cooperation. The second phase develops model legislation dealing with local planning. A third phase will provide model legislation for creating the implementation tools communities need to manage change. As part of Growing Smart, the APA has prepared summaries of planning statutes of all 50 States, as well as the first of a series of working papers, entitled Modernizing State Planning Statutes, that addresses various aspects of local, state, and regional planning. More information on APA’s Growing Smart efforts are available at: www.planning.org.

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This information was provided by the Government of United States of America to the 5th and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: December 1999.

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MOUNTAINS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

As in Land Management, most all decision-making is taken at state and local levels and major groups are generally involved at these levels. Federal Agencies responsible for federal lands in mountainous areas are pursuing ecosystem approaches to land management. See information under Land Management.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) was established in 1965 pursuant to the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965. Its purpose was to help build a better economy and better quality of life for the people in the Appalachian Mountain region. 

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

An important element of the programme is its unique partnership of federal, state and local governments. This structure helps put responsibility in the hands of citizens at the local level. In this process, initiatives from local citizens become part of each state's annual overall plan that is then approved by the ARC. This results in a "from the bottom up" approach to addressing local needs, rather than from the top down. 

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

In 1965, one in three people living in Appalachian Mountains were considered impoverished. Since then, the overall poverty rate has diminished to closer to that of the federal average. The number of adults who have received high school educations in the area has risen from one in three in 1965, to two in three; and the infant death rate has been cut in half over that same time period.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

Funds that have been distributed through ARC programmes have been used for improving water and sewer systems, work force training programmes, adult literacy programmes, improving access to health care, and in construction of the Appalachian highway system. Since 1965, the 13-state region within the ARC has received $6.5 billion in special federal funding, which in turned has leveraged funds from state and municipal sources. 

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This information is based on the United States of America's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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OCEANS AND COASTAL AREAS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The National Security Council (NSC) Interagency Working Group on Global Environmental Affairs, including but not limited to all US maritime and coastal agencies, has primary responsibility for ensuring the integrated planning and implementation of costal management policy. The NSC is fully integrated in the President's Council on Sustainable Development. Major Groups have an advisory role in the national and local agenda-setting processes. These groups include the private sector, small-scale artisanal fishermen and indigenous people. The US Mineral Management Service coordinates with counterpart agencies abroad with respect to offshore oil and gas operations.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Prior assessment of the impact of major activities on oceans is required under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Under the programme area of marine environmental protection, a tradeable permits programme for SO2 emissions and a cradle-to-grave hazardous waste management scheme has been introduced. 

Since the 1972 enactment of the Coastal Zone Management Act, environmental assessments of coastal and marine areas are undertaken at least every two years.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

The US has a national policy on oceans as well as an integrated coastal area management programme. Existing coastal zone and area management plans encompass all marine activities within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Government has access to technologies that serve to identify the major types of pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

The Government participates in the development of socio-economic and environmental indicators, systematic observation systems, mussel watch programmes and clearing-houses, as well as capacity building and training programmes. The US National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration is working on a number of indices of nutrient enrichment, including an algae index. The US noted, however, that an algae index alone, without other indices, is not very useful. There are several databases (National Estuarine Inventory, National Coastal Discharge Inventory, National Status and Trends Programme, etc.) used by the US Government, private sector or universities. These databases cover all relevant issues in coastal zones and are rated as "adequate". The US is able to measure improvements and changes in the coastal and marine environment primarily through the National Status and Trends Programme.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

Bilateral and multilateral financial assistance has been provided by the US Government since 1992 to implement activities to address the sustainable development of small islands and developing states (SIDS).

Cooperation

The US supports the Clearinghouse Concept in the Global Plan of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. Adoption of a UNGA resolution would facilitate coordination among the UN agencies and international organizations. The ratification and implementation of IMO treaties also requires international cooperation. The United States fully supports the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provision of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, as well as the 1993 Agreement to promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas. The US also fully supports the Code of Conduct of Responsible Fishing which impacts the conservation and management of marine fisheries within the US EEZ.

The Government recently helped launch a process to establish a multinational initiative for an International Research Institute (IRI) and network dedicated to world-class scientific research and education on forecasting on year-to-year climate variability. The US took the lead on developing the clearinghouse activity called for in the Global Programme of Action (GPA) on land-based activities and hosted the conference in 1995 which developed and adopted the GPA. The US plays a significant role in the IOC, IPCC, World Weather Watch, Earth Watch, and International Mussel Watch. The US notes the importance of para. 17.118 of Agenda 21 that calls for the UNGA to provide for regular consideration within the UN system on general marine and coastal issues, including environment and development items. The US Government participates in the Global Ocean Observing System.

USAID's Water and Coastal Resources Programme addresses the vital and strategic interests in promoting the sustainable development of freshwater, coastal, and marine resources. USAID is playing a leadership role in providing direction and impetus to international efforts to address the needs for integrated coastal and freshwater resources management, preservation of aquatic biodiversity and reduction of pollution from land-based activities. As part of its strategy, USAID is actively supporting the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), which stems in part from a US initiative. In addition USAID actively supports the sustainable management of mangrove and other coastal ecosystems.

The U.S. hosted a UNEP organized conference on landbased sources of marine pollution in Washington in November 1995 that resulted in a Global Plan of Action to deal with this serious problem. The U.S. spearheaded international efforts in 1993/94 to call for a ban on radioactive waste dumping at sea.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was signed but has not yet been ratified by the US. The Convention continues to serve as a comprehensive framework with respect to the uses of the oceans. It creates the structure for the governance and protection of all marine areas, including the air space above and the seabed and sub-soil below. The US signed the accompanying Agreement Relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the Convention on July 29, 1994, and intends to apply the Agreement provisionally pending ratification.

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This information is based on the United States of America's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997.

To access the Web Site of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, click here:

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TOXIC CHEMICALS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

In response to growing public awareness and concern over environmental threats to human health posed by toxic chemicals and substances, the US Congress has established over the past 25 years a number of agencies to address different aspects of environmental health issues. The network of federal agencies, moreover, involves numerous constituent and participating groups. At the national level, the federal agencies - including USEPA, the Department of Labor's Occupational and Health Administration and seven different agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), USDA, and the Department of Transportation -- play a large role in defining and pursuing environmental health goals pertaining to toxic chemicals and substances through research, administration and service programmes, as well as via regulation and enforcement activities. These agencies also provide valuable assistance to state and local environmental departments and health agencies. State and local agencies must address many of the same environmental health issues as the federal government. The scope and responsibilities of state agencies are extremely diverse and vary from state to state. 

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

In 1996, the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) was adopted, amending FIFRA. The new law establishes stronger health-based safety standards for pesticide residues in all foods. It uses a "reasonable certainty of no harm" as a general safety standard. The single, health-based standard eliminates long-standing problems posed by multiple standards for pesticides in raw and processed foods. It requires USEPA to consider all non-occupational sources of exposure, including drinking water, and exposure to other pesticides with a common mechanism of toxicity when setting standards.

The foundation of the chemicals control programmes in the United States is based on the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Non-pesticide chemical uses are covered by TSCA, which requires pre-manufacture notification and testing in some cases. FIFRA requires the registration, based on the review of testing data, of the domestic use of any pesticide. A related statute, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) establishes tolerance levels for pesticides residues on foods, including imported foods. The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) address consumer exposure to hazardous chemicals and products, including those manufactured abroad. Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Mine Safety and Health Act address occupational exposures to hazardous chemicals.

The most significant innovations in chemical management in the past 10 years have been the result of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Pollution Prevention Act. EPCRA set up networks of local and state-level committees with the mission to develop plans to prevent, prepare for and respond to chemical accidents. EPCRA also established the toxics release inventory (TRI), which is a publicly available national database of routine annual emissions of over 300 toxic chemicals to air, water, land and off-site disposal. Early in 1993, the President ordered previously exempted federal facilities, including military installations, to report TRI emissions as well as stockpiles of chemicals stored on-site. EPCRA, complemented by related voluntary programmes, has, in many instances, resulted in greater reductions in environmental risk than more traditional command-and-control approaches. A significant change in the FHSA since UNCED has been the inclusion of guidelines for evaluating chronic hazards from the exposure to carcinogenic, neurotoxic and reproductive/developmental toxic substances. These guidelines facilitate better interagency and international coordination of policies regarding exposure to such substances. The Pollution Prevention Act established a bold national objective that "Pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible." The USEPA Administrator has made this ethic a central consideration of all EPA programmes.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

Environmental NGOs are also actively involved in national and local debates involved in governmental efforts aimed at addressing problems posed by toxics. 

Non-government entities, predominately from the science and technological community as represented by colleges and universities, address a range of environmental health research and policy issues related to toxic chemicals and substances. 

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

By and large, the United States is a world leader in development and utilizing the latest state-of-the-art technology related to administering toxic chemicals and substances.

Financing 

The total amount of federal financing related to research, administration and regulation is not available at this time, but increasing resource constraints are of concern.

Cooperation

The United States has been successful in having fundamental democratic principles accepted as part of the foundation for international toxic chemical work in numerous fora, including OECD, UNEP, UNECE, and IFCS. In contributing to the CSD process, the United States co-hosted with Mexico a workshop on lead. The results of that workshop were instrumental in getting the CSD to call for governments to phase out the use of leaded gasoline.

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This information is based on the United States of America's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For national information on toxic chemicals, click here.

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WASTE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

Solid Waste and Sanitation

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

State and local governments in the United States continue to have the primary responsibility for municipal solid waste management. Invariably, based on the strong democratic system of government in the US, various stakeholders are included in the decision-making structure at the State and local levels. Solid waste management is typically provided or regulated by local governments with funding from general tax revenues. The federal government, through the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), establishes performance standards for State and local efforts to ensure protection of human health and the environment and also cooperates with these communities in a number of programmes to improve solid waste management and prevent pollution. One example of technology cooperation deals with underground storage tanks. 

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

At the federal level, the US continues to pursue the environmentally sound management of solid wastes through implementation of key federal laws including, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) also known as the Superfund Act.  More than 30 States have quantitative recycling targets for municipal solid waste ranging from 15 to 30 percent. Once a State has put into place the means to oversee and enforce RCRA rules, it may petition the federal government for the right to operate the RCRA programme. To date, 46 States have received this right.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

The federal government is helping States and localities plan for safe and cost-effective waste prevention, recycling and disposal by facilitating information exchange, providing technical assistance, setting minimum standards governing the safe management of municipal waste, as well as loans and other support for efforts to promote source reduction and recycling.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

USEPA is implementing a national programme for businesses that provides extensive guidance on waste prevention and recycling, and for improving and expanding markets for recycled products. 

Business and industry, the scientific and technological community, and environmental NGOs tend to be the most active of the major groups on solid waste management issues in the United States.

Programmes and Projects 

Under current policy, it is estimated that the RCRA programme will cost $234 billion between 1990 and 2020. The national goal for solid waste management continues to be the reduction of the amount of wastes through source reduction and recycling programmes.

Status 

The US still records the largest per capita generation of municipal solid waste among OECD countries. Municipal solid waste is expected to decline slightly on a per capita basis by 2000 mostly as a result of source reduction efforts. The pursuit of the RCRA goal of promoting waste reduction, reuse and recycling is succeeding in gradually reducing quantities of municipal waste being incinerated and landfilled: the proportion of waste recovered tripled between 1970 and 1993 and now stands at about 22 percent. Despite the fact that 38 States have enacted more than 140 recycling laws, with some having also established tax incentive programmes for recycling, overall US recycling rates are lower than those seen in other OECD countries. For example, nationwide about 34 percent of paper and 22 percent of glass were recycled in 1993 as compared to other OECD countries who have reached 40 percent and more in their paper and glass recycling efforts. The RCRA goal of cradle-to-grave management of waste is broadly being met. In spite of some slow efforts in some localities, most municipal waste is now disposed of in lined landfills, incinerated, or composted. Unsound disposal operations have been shut down. The share of incineration is not expected to grow and is likely to remain at about 16 percent, while landfilling is projected to decrease by about 10 percent between 1993 and 2000.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available.

Financing 

With respect to sewerage issues, the federal response continues to focus on implementation of the Clean Water Act. Under this Act, federal funding contributed about three-quarters of the investment cost of local waste water treatment facilities. Over the past two decades, the Clean Water Act's Construction Grants Programme provided a total of nearly $60 billion in federal assistance for the construction of municipal sewage treatment works, while states and local governments contributed over $20 billion. This has resulted in the US as a leader among OECD countries with respect to state-of-the-art sewerage treatment. In 1991, the US ceased dumping sewerage sludge in coastal waters.

Cooperation

The United States cooperates with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, in addressing solid waste and sewage-related issues as they may arise. USAID strives to alleviate problems arising from poor sanitation and contaminated drinking water by assisting local governments in developing countries and in countries with economies in transition to improve and expand urban environmental services and related infrastructure, primarily water supply, sanitation and drainage, and solid waste management. USAID programmes are aimed at increasing the volume of wastewater collected and treated from poor neighborhoods; introducing municipal and industrial performance standards for disposal of waste; and increasing capacity for compliance and enforcement of pollution standards. USAID activities have resulted in improved access to waste collection services and supported private-public cooperation in solid waste management. These activities have resulted in better sanitation, particularly for the urban poor. The United States adheres to the OECD Council Decision governing trade in recyclable waste with other OECD countries.

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Hazardous Wastes

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

CERCLA is designed to promote clean-up of sites and other areas where past disposal practices of hazardous substances may now pose a threat to the environment and/or human health. Under this law, a large portion of the cleanups are conducted by the polluters; States participate in the cleanups as well, but there is no delegation of authority in CERCLA that permits States to administer the programme. 

Since UNCED, the Clinton Administration has made pollution prevention, including waste minimization, one of its highest priorities for the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). To further this goal, USEPA has pursued several policies, including issuing new guidelines for hazardous waste reduction programmes that include community right-to-know features; convening a task force of USEPA and State officials to develop economically sound source reduction strategies and technical controls; and restructuring hazardous waste recycling programmes.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

At the federal level, the United States continues to pursue the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes under key laws, including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) also known as the "Superfund" Act.

Most States and many localities also have their own laws and regulations concerning hazardous and solid waste disposal. Current disposal capacity is sufficient to handle expected amounts of hazardous waste safely until at least 2013. Combustion rules for hazardous waste were considerably tightened in 1994.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

The US is strongly committed to public participation in environmental decision-making, and believes that federal programmes dealing with hazardous waste issues are run better when there is significant public input into the process. There are both federal programmes as well as many state and local government programmes that address hazardous waste issues. Federal agencies have established programmes to encourage development of new hazardous waste cleanup technologies. Major groups play a key role in policy, scientific and technological issues involved with hazardous waste issues at federal, state and local levels. The predominant major groups involved include environmental NGOs, business and industry, and those from the scientific and technological field.

Programmes and Projects 

RCRA is a nation-wide programme to protect human health and the environment from the risks of improper management of hazardous and solid waste, and it provides a "cradle-to-grave" system of regulations for hazardous waste to promote the cleanup of sites that have been contaminated with hazardous substances while ensuring that, to the extent possible, the polluter pays principle is adhered to. This programme is, to a large extent, administered by State governments with federal oversight. 

Status 

USEPA has also focused RCRA initiatives since UNCED on environmental justice through siting, permitting, public involvement, corrective action, disproportionate impacts and Native American tribal issues. For example, the USEPA expanded public involvement and improving its own ability to include environmental justice in public health considerations and to assure that priority-setting methods adequately address environmental justice concerns. Much of the USEPA action related to environmental justice is done in line with the Executive Order issued by President Clinton in February 1994 on Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

No information is available.

Information 

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

The US is generally recognized as a world leader in the development and utilization of advanced technologies associated with both pollution prevention and hazardous waste treatment. 

Financing 

 No information is available.

Cooperation

The US has worked closely with its North American neighbors to address hazardous waste issues. Although the US has not ratified the Basel Convention, it actively participates in Basel technical meetings and has attended every meeting of the Basel Conference of Parties held to date.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was signed in 1990, but not yet ratified.

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Radioactive Wastes

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The Federal agencies involved in radioactive waste issues are the Department of Energy (DOE), the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 

United States policy continues to emphasize the safe storage of radioactive wastes, the development of permanent solutions to radioactive waste disposal and the present generation's accountability for current radioactive waste inventories. The US Department of Energy is continuing its efforts to develop a waste-management system for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from both civilian and government facilities. The system will consist of a geologic repository, a monitored retrievable storage (MRS) facility, and a transportation system to support storage and retrieval. The NRC will license civilian facilities. A conceptual design has been completed for the MRS, which will handle and store fuel until it is permanently disposed of in a repository. 

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

US radioactive waste policy and programme missions continue to be mandated by legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. Major legislation governing US radioactive waste policy includes

Through these and other legislation, the storage and disposal of most commercially generated low-level waste is assigned to the States, and all other wastes, including low-level waste of non-commercial origin and all greater than class C low-level waste, are the responsibility of the federal government.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

Information is not available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

Environment NGOs, business and industry and scientific and technological community are involved at various levels of debate (i.e., local, state and national).

Programmes and Projects 

Information is not available.

Status 

 The US has not dumped low-level radioactive waste in the ocean since 1970. In November 1993, the US called for an international prohibition of ocean dumping of low-level radioactive waste which was subsequently adopted by most parties to the London Convention.

Challenges

Information is not available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

Information is not available.

Information 

Information is not available.

Research and Technologies 

Scientific feasibility investigations continue at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, which Congress has selected as a candidate for the geologic repository. The construction of an underground Exploratory Studies Facility is underway at Yucca Mountain to enable scientists to examine the geologic, hydrologic, and geochemical characteristics of the potential host rock.

Financing 

Information is not available.

Cooperation

The US cooperates in the IAEA, the London Convention, the NEA, and under numerous bilateral cooperation agreements.

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This information is based on the United States of America's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For national information on hazardous waste, click here.
For direct link to the Web Site of the Basel Convention, click here:


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