Accounting for the Environmental “Bottom Line” along the U.S.-Mexico Border
This article explores the prospects for establishing an environmental accounting system along the U.S.-Mexico border. After reviewing the rationale for environmental accounting and developing an accounting framework, three studies from the San Diego-Tijuana region are presented. In the first study, we estimate the total proportion of government expenditures made to defend the environment against human-induced changes in San Diego. This study reveals that defensive expenditures absorb 1.23 percent of total economic output and more than 21 percent of local government expenditures. The second study focuses on a smaller area along the border where the environmentally sensitive Tijuana Estuary on the U.S. side connects to the heavily populated Canon de los Laureles on the Mexican side. Expenditures made in Mexico aim to protect against threats to human health and safety, while those in the U.S. target the preservation of recreational resources and ecosystem health. Our third study estimates the value of agriculture land losses in San Diego between 1990 and 1995. Using an average price estimate for agricultural output and discount rates ranging from 0 to 5 percent, we find that the present value of the losses ranges from 0.18 percent to 1.8 percent of the total economy. Many of the areas lost to urban development are close to the existing urban area, suggesting the possibility of secondary impacts, such as increased air-pollution emissions resulting from longer transportation distance to market.