Pulse Point Newsletter for June 29, 2001
Published by Alliance Consulting International
Partners in Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety

By Enrique Medina, MS, CIH

Mexico's Fox administration has completed the reorganization of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) headed by Secretary Victor Lichtinger, with the issuance of its new internal regulations in the Official Journal of the Federation on June 4, 2001.

Among the more noticeable changes of interest to the regulated industrial sector are the transfer of permitting and licensing authority from the National Institute of Ecology (INE) to a new Undersecretariat for Management of Environmental Protection, and the reorganization of INE into a scientific research arm of SEMARNAT. The Attorney General for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) also has been granted broader prosecutorial and investigative powers under the new scheme.

SEMARNAT has two other undersecretariats, namely Planning and Environmental Policy, and Development and Environmental Standards, as well as three coordinating units, including Public Participation and Transparency, International Affairs, and the Office of the Chief Clerk.

 The Environmental Protection Undersecretariat has five general directorates. The General Directorate of Environmental Impact and Risk is responsible for reviewing and ruling on environmental impact manifests and risk assessments for new projects. The General Directorate for the Integral Management of Pollutants is responsible for the issuance of operating licenses for industrial facilities, permitting air emissions sources, and authorizing high-hazard activities, including hazardous waste transportation, treatment and disposal facilities. It also evaluates and approves remediation and waste treatment technologies. The three other directorates are involved in Marine and Coastal Environments, Wildlife, and Forestry and Soil Services.

The Undersecretariat for Development and Standards takes over INE's function in standards development through four general directorates with different specialized areas, namely: Raw Materials and Renewable Natural Resources; Industry; Urban Development, Transportation, Services, and Tourism; and Energy and Mining Activities.

The newly reorganized INE presided by eminent ecologist Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra will conduct environmental-related research and provide technical support to SEMARNAT's administrative units. The new divisions are Ecological Planning and Ecosystem Conservation; Urban, Regional and Global Pollution Research; Environmental Policy and Economics Research, and the National Center for Environmental Research and Training.

In addition to INE, SEMARNAT's reorganization includes four other decentralized agencies. Two of these, the Attorney General for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) and the National Water Commission (CNA), will continue from the previous model, while two new ones are being created: Mexican Institute for Water Technology, and the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas.

To make it easier to visualize the new structure, an organizational chart of the new SEMARNAT developed by LexCorp Abogados is attached as an Acrobat pdf file. The chart and this article can also be found in the Pulse Point archives at www.pulse-point.com/archive.

If you have questions about how the new environmental impact regulations may affect your current or future projects, please contact us at (619) 297-1469 or send us an email at emedina@pulse-point.com.

Information for this article was provided by LexCorp Abogados, an environmental and general business law firm headquartered in Mexico City. LexCorp's environmental group leader, Daniel Basurto can be reached at dbasurto@lexcorp.com.mx.

Alliance Consulting International
Partners in Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety
3361 28th St.
San Diego, California 92104
(fax (619)297-1023

For articles in previous issues of Pulse Point visit our web site's "archive" section at: www.pulse-point.com/
To unsubscribe, just reply to this message and write "Unsubscribe" in the Subject bar.

All material Copyright © 2001 Pulse Point.
Pulse Point is written for the benefit of our readers with the sole intent to provide general information. The articles are not intended as specific opinions or as a substitute for professional advice in individual cases.