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Media Release

El Paso public forum to examine cross-border movement of harmful chemicals, community concerns

Forum will also look at results of the Citizen Submissions on Enforcement Matters process

Montreal, 7 October 2011—Information about hazardous wastes and potentially harmful chemicals that are crossing North America’s borders, as well as where they end up, is crucial to understanding and reducing these substances’ impacts on communities.

On Monday, 7 November, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) will lead a public forum to examine how well North America is addressing these issues.

Join JPAC in El Paso, Texas, for a chance to discuss what’s being done now and to help identify what information may be missing on where these substances come from, how they’re transported and what happens to them once they’ve crossed the borders. Just as importantly, participants will discuss impacts on people’s health and the environment.

A panel discussion will provide some of the information to help answer these questions and will also feature work already under way, including the CEC’s Taking Stock Online cross-border transfers database and mapping tool and a new hazardous waste and recyclable materials tracking system developed by enforcement officials in the three countries as the result of a long-standing CEC cooperative project.

Citizen Submissions on Enforcement Matters

A morning session will feature the perspectives of citizens who have filed submissions with the CEC alleging that a Party to the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) failed to effectively enforce its environmental laws. This process, known as Citizen Submissions on Enforcement Matters, was created by the Parties to the NAAEC—Canada, Mexico and the United States—through Articles 14 and 15 of the agreement.

As part of discussions during the session, JPAC will share responses to a questionnaire sent to all submitters to gauge their experiences with the citizen submission process.

Since 1995, the CEC has received 76 citizen submissions dealing with a wide range of environmental enforcement questions among the three NAAEC countries. Factual records—a final report produced by the CEC Secretariat detailing the facts regarding the enforcement matters in question—have been published for 16 submissions. Information on all citizen submissions is available at: www.cec.org/citizen.

Join JPAC in person or online

Register now for this forum to be held at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in El Paso, Texas. Participation is free-of-charge. If you’re unable to attend the event in person, you can still participate online through our live webcast, where you’ll be able to follow in English, French and Spanish and submit questions and comments by e-mail.

New JPAC member for Mexico

JPAC Chair Irasema Coronado announced in September that Gabriel Calvillo Díaz, a lawyer specializing in environmental law and enforcement, has been appointed as a new JPAC member from Mexico by Environment Secretary Juan Elvira Quesada. Dr. Coronado also thanked outgoing JPAC members from Mexico, Gustavo Alanís Ortega and Carlos Sandoval, for their important contributions.

About JPAC

The Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC), composed of 15 citizens (five from each country), makes recommendations to the CEC Council on any matter within the scope of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) and acts as a source of information for the CEC Secretariat.

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.

About the CEC video