CEC recommends investigation of Sumidero Canyon II submission and delivers factual record for Environmental Pollution in Hermosillo II submission

Montreal, 27 November 2013—The Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has concluded—following a thorough review of the documentation received—that there are central issues warranting a factual investigation relating to the effective enforcement of the environmental law in connection with the alleged irregular operation of a quarry and the protection of the Sumidero Canyon National Park in Chiapas, Mexico.

On 18 November 2013, the CEC Secretariat issued a notification recommending to the Council of the CEC that a factual record be developed in regard to submission SEM-11-002 (Sumidero Canyon II)and it is now authorized to make this notification public.

The submission was filed on 29 November 2011, by Comité Pro-Mejoras de la Ribera Cahuaré (the “Submitter”), who asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce provisions of the Mexican Environmental Protection Act (Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y la Protección al Ambiente—LGEEPA) and the Protected Natural Areas Regulation of the LGEEPA, in connection with quarry operations by the company Cales y Morteros del Grijalva, S.A. de C.V., located in Sumidero Canyon National Park. The Submitter alleges that the quarry operations are causing harm to the Park.

In its response, Mexico requests that the submission process be terminated, gives notice of the existence of three pending administrative proceedings, and presents information in response to some of the Submitter’s assertions. Specifically, Mexico asserts that it effectively enforced its environmental law under Article 5(1)(b) of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) in that it ensured compliance with the applicable laws and used administrative measures to investigate alleged violations by the company.

Having reviewed the submission in the light of Mexico’s response, the Secretariat finds that there remain central open questions related to the applicable air emissions approvals; the noise produced by the company’s activities; the obtaining of an environmental impact approval; the implementation of emergency measures; the issuance of the management plan for Sumidero Canyon National Park, and the activities permitted in the Park.

The Secretariat will develop a factual record if two or more members of the Council—the CEC’s governing body, composed of the highest ranking environmental officials of Canada, the United States and Mexico—so decide. The Council has until 25 February 2014 to vote.

Also today, the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) delivered to the CEC Council a report (known as a “factual record”) on submission SEM-05-003 (Environmental Pollution in Hermosillo II) filed with the Secretariat on 30 August 2005, by Academia Sonorense de Derechos Humanos, A.C. and Domingo Gutiérrez Mendívil (the “Submitters”).

The Submitters assert that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce a number of provisions and official standards under Mexican law with respect to the prevention, monitoring, oversight and control of air pollution in the city of Hermosillo, Sonora.

In preparing this factual record the Secretariat considered both the submission and the Party’s Response to the submission, as well as independently gathered information.

The Secretariat administers the process set out in Articles 14 and 15 of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), which allows the public to submit assertions to the Secretariat concerning a NAAEC Party’s (Canada, Mexico, or the US) effective enforcement of environmental law.

The purpose of a factual record is to provide an objective presentation of the facts relevant to the assertion(s) set forth in such a submission, and to allow readers to draw their own conclusions regarding a Party’s environmental law enforcement. Although a factual record is not to contain conclusions or recommendations, it is expected to outline the history of the environmental enforcement issue raised in the submission, the relevant legal obligations of the Party, and the actions of the Party in attempting to fulfill those obligations.

The CEC Council may now, by a two-thirds vote, make the final factual record publicly available, normally within 60 days following its delivery to the Council. The Council has until 5 March 2014 to vote.

For further information, visit the CEC Submissions on Enforcement Matters website at www.cec.org/submissions.