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Media Release

CEC Council authorizes to publish the US Coal-fired Power Plants factual record and instructs the development of two factual records concerning Mexico

The Coal-fired Power Plants factual record addresses enforcement of the US Clean Water Act in relation to 36 facilities. The Mexican factual records will present information on government enforcement actions in connection with quarry operations in a national park and gas infrastructure projects in a wetland.

Montreal, 10 July 2014—The Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has authorized to make public the Coal-fired Power Plants factual record via Council Resolution 14-07, and instructed the Secretariat to develop factual records concerning theSumidero Canyon II and Wetlands in Manzanillo submissions through Council Resolution 14-05 and Council Resolution 14-06, respectively.

SEM-04-005 (Coal-fired Power Plants)

Filing in September 2004, a group of submitters represented by Waterkeeper Alliance and Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund) asserted that the United States had failed to effectively enforce the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) in regard to mercury releases from coal-fired power plants. The CEC Secretariat did not recommend the preparation of a factual record on the CAA assertions due to pending administrative and judicial proceedings on those issues.

On 23 June 2014, the Council unanimously decided to instruct the Secretariat to publish a factual record concerning coal-fired power plants included on the 2002 US Toxics Release Inventory in ten US states.

The factual record provides information relevant to the Submitters’ assertions that the United States had failed to enforce §303 and §402 of the CWA by issuing or renewing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits that allowed for point-source discharges of mercury that caused or contributed to non-attainment of the water quality criteria for mercury in the receiving waterbodies. The factual record also provides information showing that all ten states of concern had listed at least one waterbody as impaired due to mercury contamination during the time period relevant to the factual record (1994-2004). The total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for the mercury-impaired waters varied greatly from state to state.

SEM-11-002 (Sumidero Canyon II)

Filing in November 2011, the Comité Pro-Mejoras de la Ribera Cahuaré asserts that Mexico had failed to effectively enforce its environmental law with respect to the operation of the Cales y Morteros del Grijalva limestone quarry and the protection of the Sumidero Canyon National Park.

On 10 June 2014 the Council unanimously decided in Council Resolution 14-05 to instruct the CEC Secretariat to develop a factual record with respect to noise emissions from the quarry in question, the extent to which the quarry’s activities generate benefits for the local inhabitants and whether these are compatible with the National Park and its “carrying capacity.”

SEM-09-002 (Wetlands in Manzanillo)

Filing in February 2009, Bios Iguana, A.C. and Esperanza Salazar Zenil assert that Mexico had failed to effectively enforce its environmental law with respect to the authorization of two projects: a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) plant in the Laguna de Cuyutlán in Manzanillo, the fourth largest wetland in Mexico.

On 8 July 2014, the Council, through Council Resolution 14-06, unanimously decided to instruct the Secretariat to develop a factual record with respect to the relationship between the LNG and LPG projects and the environmental land-use plan, and with respect to the environmental impact assessment for the LNG project, with specific reference to the hydrodynamic flow in the coastal wetland of the Cuyutlán lagoon.

In accordance with the revised SEM Process Guidelines approved by the Council in July 2012, the CEC Council has publicly provided its reasons for the instructions regarding the development of factual records. These reasons have been posted in the Sumidero Canyon II and Wetlands in Manzanillo public registries. The Secretariat is expected to conclude the drafting of both factual records within one year, in accordance with the SEM Process Guidelines.

Articles 14 and 15 of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation(NAAEC) allow the CEC Secretariat to consider a submission from members of the public and non-governmental organizations concerning the effective enforcement of environmental law by a NAAEC Party (Canada, Mexico, or the US). The CEC has published Guidelines for Submissions on Enforcement Matters explaining the steps in the process.

About the CEC

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was established in 1994 by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States through the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, a parallel environmental agreement to NAFTA. As of 2020, the CEC is recognized and maintained by the Environmental Cooperation Agreement, in parallel with the new Free Trade Agreement of North America. The CEC brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, Indigenous people, youth, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the business sector, to seek solutions to protect North America’s shared environment while supporting sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations

The CEC is governed and funded equally by the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Government of the United States of Mexico through the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, and the Government of the United States of America through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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