New binational agreement fosters continuous monitoring in El Paso Air Basin

For decades, the threat posed by air pollution in the El Paso region has challenged stakeholders on both sides of the border, thwarting growth in the two countries’ interlocked economies. 

The El Paso Air Basin, a bowl-shaped desert region defined by the Rio Grande and mountainous terrain, resides within the Paso del Norte, the historic overland trade route between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts; a critical nexus of material resources, capital, labor, and culture, connecting major markets within North America. 

Specifically, what’s been missing is a central fund with resources dedicated to financing continuous air quality monitoring – critical information needed for detecting pollution hotspots.  

Until now. 

TCEQ recently announced its participation in a first-of-its-kind Binational Air Monitoring Fund, an innovative program explicitly formed to resolve this longstanding problem by ensuring ongoing air monitoring throughout the Basin. 

The fund is managed by the North American Development Bank, established in 1993 by the U.S. and Mexico to facilitate financing, construction, and operation of environmental infrastructure projects in the border region. Given its binational composition, NADBANK is ideally suited to manage this new program.  

The fund is governed by the Joint Advisory Committee, a community-based organization that oversees efforts to achieve cleaner air for the Paso del Norte region.  

TCEQ Commissioner Bobby Janecka has been an integral force in the formation of the agreement and creation of the fund, working closely with officials on both sides of the border. 

Janecka joined representatives of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua; El Paso, Texas; and Doña Ana County, New Mexico on May 7 at a ceremony commemorating the JAC’s 25th anniversary. 

Eddie Moderow, Border Affairs Manager for TCEQ, says continuous monitoring will help identify sources of emissions. 

“The fund is a mechanism for entities to work together,” Moderow says, adding that it represents an opportunity for industry leaders and local businesses to invest in their communities, removing longstanding barriers to development. “It allows us to leverage resources from both countries through a public-private partnership – something that has been needed for a long time.” 

Air pollution knows no borders, of course, which makes the new fund especially significant. 

“It lays out a vision for a single Air Basin, and allows us to collaborate,” Moderow says, adding that TCEQ hopes the agreement will be an incentive for future alliances and binational collaboration. 

Commissioner Bobby Janecka
Commissioner Bobby Janecka

Bobby Janecka served as a policy advisor for Governor Greg Abbott, as well as the primary liaison with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Prior to serving in the Governor’s Office, Janecka worked as a section manager in TCEQ’s Radioactive Materials Division. He has served as legislative staff for Texas State Representatives Geanie Morrison and Tryon Lewis and as a legislative analyst at the Comptroller of Public Accounts. Janecka also worked as a public school teacher in New Orleans, Louisiana. Janecka received a Bachelor of Arts in Historical Studies and Literary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas, a master’s degree in International Affairs from the Texas A&M George Bush School of Government and Public Service, and completed the Governor’s Executive Development Program at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs in 2014.

Eddie Moderow, Manager/U.S.-Mexico Border Affairs Program
Eddie Moderow, Manager/U.S.-Mexico Border Affairs Program

As the manager of TCEQ’s Border Affairs program and Colonias Coordinator, Eddie Moderow works with agency officials to design and manage binational projects relating to air quality, water quality, and solid waste management. He is responsible for TCEQ’s Border Initiative; its collaborative work with four neighboring Mexican states; involvement in Border 2025: U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program; and participation in TCEQ’s colonias initiative, the Economically Distressed Areas Program. Eddie studied biology and Spanish in Mexico, Spain, Costa Rica, and Argentina. He holds a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Spanish Literature from the University of Texas at Austin.