Advisory Panel Calls on CEC to Reform Enforcement Complaint Process, Tackle Hazardous Wastes
22 December 2011: The Commission for Environmental Cooperation's (CEC) Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) has released recommendations to the CEC Council on two issues: reform of the process for citizen submissions on enforcement matters (SEM); and the transboundary movement of hazardous waste in North America.
SEM is the process whereby a citizen or nongovernmental organization (NGO) from Canada, Mexico or the US can file a complaint with the CEC asserting that one of the three nations is "failing to effectively enforce its environmental law." While applauding the Council's decision to create a SEM Modernization Task Force, the JPAC called on the Council to restore the process' credibility and public trust in it by reviewing how to improve the timeliness and accessibility of the process, giving more deference to the CEC Secretariat's independent recommendations and interpretations during the process, and ensuring follow-up on factual records. JPAC's SEM recommendations were based on a public hearing held by JPAC on 7 November 2011, in El Paso, Texas, and a JPAC survey of those who have made SEM submissions since the process was first created.
As for wastes, concerned about a reported increase in the flow of used lead-acid batteries to Mexico, JPAC called for the Council to instruct the CEC to recommend actions to promote compliance with the criteria for environmentally sound management identified in the CEC's December 2007 report on lead-acid batteries, and to have a report to the Council about it in July 2012.
The CEC was created by Canada, Mexico and the US to implement the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), the environmental side accord to the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Council, composed of the Environment Ministers from the three member states, directs CEC work. JPAC, composed of five individuals from each nation, is charged with getting public input on, and providing recommendations for, the Council. [CEC Press Release] [JPAC Recommendations]