CEC Secretariat Releases Factual Record on City Park Project in León, Guanajuato, Mexico
Montreal, 27 July 2023—On July 4, 2023, the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) made public the Factual Record on the City Park Project (SEM-19-002), after the CEC Council voted to authorize its publication. The factual record is the final step in the CEC’s Submissions on Enforcement Matters (SEM) process, which allows individuals, organizations and entities across North America to raise concerns about the enforcement of environmental laws by Canada, Mexico or the United States.
The factual record is the result of a 2019 submission filed by an NGO, Acción Colectiva Socioambiental, A.C., which asserts that the municipal authorities in León, Guanajuato illegally authorized the construction of the City Park Project due to an asserted lack of jurisdiction to evaluate and authorize the project, and that the authorities did not adequately consider the project’s effects on the environment under the environmental impact assessment procedure.
In its decision to authorize the development of the City Park Project Factual Record in November 2021, the CEC Council directed the Secretariat to prepare a factual record on the assertions concerning the municipal authorities’ lack of jurisdiction over the environmental impact assessment and approval for the project, and the insufficiency of documentation and implementation of the public consultation and participation process.
In the City Park Factual Record released on July 4, the Secretariat’s review of publicly available information disclosed the following:
- The environmental authorities of the state of Guanajuato considered that due to the nature of the project, the competent authority to authorize the environmental impact assessment was the municipality of León, Guanajuato.
- The environmental authorities of the state of Guanajuato entered into an administrative coordination agreement with the City of León. Under the terms of the agreement, the city government was authorized to implement the environmental impact assessment procedure pursuant to state—but not municipal—regulations, and the state of Guanajuato retained the right to directly exercise the environmental powers transferred under the agreement.
- The Secretariat found no information indicating that a public consultation meeting had been held in relation to the Project and no information on whether the City of León obtained any opinions or information requests on the environmental impact statement within the deadlines established by the law.
The complete factual record can be found on the public Registry of Submissions on the CEC’s website.
This submission and factual record were processed and developed under the SEM process established by the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, the environmental side agreement to NAFTA. As of July 1, 2020, it should be noted that submissions are now processed in accordance with the provisions of the USMCA/CUSMA, in effect as of the same date.
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: