Photo of the North American Continent

Media Release

CEC Secretariat moves forward on two submissions

Montreal, 21 January 2016—Today, the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) issued two determinations requesting responses from the United States and Mexico with respect to separate submissions filed by residents of North America. These requests for responses are part of the CEC’s submissions on enforcement matters (SEM) process. Upon receipt of the responses, the Secretariat will determine whether to request that the CEC Council authorize the development of factual records relating to the issues raised in each submission.

In the United States submission, the CEC Secretariat requests a response to the assertion that the United States is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law because it does not issue permits for municipal wastewater drop shafts under the Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) underground injection control (UIC) program. SEM-15-003 (Municipal Wastewater Drop Shafts) is a submission from Robert Schreiber, a resident of the United States. He asserts that drop shafts, which generally transport municipal wastewater from shallow sewer lines to deeper tunnels as part of a wastewater collection system, constitute “underground injections wells” that should be regulated under the permitting scheme of the SDWA’s UIC program. The Submitter contends that these systems occur throughout the United States.

Also today, the CEC Secretariat issued a determination requesting a response from Mexico to SEM-15-001 (La Primavera Forest), a submission from two individuals in Mexico. The Submitters assert that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws in relation to the Santa Anita Hills housing development project, which will allegedly cause harm to La Primavera Forest, a natural protected area in Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, Jalisco, Mexico.

In both cases, the concerned Party has 30 working days to provide its response, or up to 60 days upon notification from the Party. For more information about the CEC submissions process, please visit the CEC’s Submissions on Enforcement Matters webpage, and the registry of submissions SEM-15-003 (Municipal Wastewater Drop Shafts) and SEM-15-001 (La Primavera Forest).

SEM Success Stories

The CEC SEM Process

The CEC Submissions on Enforcement Matters process supports public participation, information-sharing between governments and the public, and transparency and openness in the effective enforcement of environmental law in North America. If you have reason to believe that an environmental law is not being effectively enforced by Canada, Mexico or the United States, the SEM process may address your concerns.

As of 1 July 2020, the CEC’s SEM process is governed by USMCA Articles 24.27 and 24.28 of the Environment Chapter of the free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States (CUSMA, T-MEC, USMCA).

Want to learn more about the SEM process? Please watch this two-minute video for an introduction:

The SEM Process