Pulse Point Newsletter for May 20, 2001
Published by Alliance Consulting International
Partners in Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety

By Enrique Medina, MS, CIH

As part of the revised Regulation to the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection on the Matters of Environmental Impact, issued in May 2000 by Mexico's National Institute of Ecology (INE-agency acronyms used refer to their Spanish-language name), the regulatory development agency of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) has developed a new set of guidelines for preparing and submitting Environmental Impact Manifests (EIM). An overview of this regulation can be found in a previous article in Pulse Point (July 2000).

Called "Sector Guidelines", these documents present in detail the content and organization of the EIM documents required for agency evaluation and approval of a wide variety of projects under federal jurisdiction. The revised regulations had reorganized federal projects into 23 general categories: water works; transportation and communications; oil and gas pipelines; oil industry; petrochemicals; chemicals; iron and steel; paper; sugar; cement; power generation; mining; hazardous and radioactive waste; forestry; forest plantations; land use changes in forest, jungles and arid areas; industrial parks housing high hazard facilities; coastal real estate developments; projects located in wetlands, mangroves, lagoons, rivers, lakes and tidelands; projects in protected natural areas; fisheries; aquaculture; and livestock and agricultural projects. State-regulated activities are excluded, although they may be subject to similar requirements contained in state environmental statutes.

The new guidelines have been developed for eleven individual sectors including; energy; fisheries/aquaculture; water works; tourism; agricultural/livestock; industrial; oil/petrochemicals; forestry; mining; communications, and hazardous waste.  For each sector, there are three types of guidelines for completing EIMs, based on the project's characteristics and complexity. They range from a Preventive Report, applying to projects with expected minimal additional impacts, such as manufacturing facilities located within approved industrial parks, to the Particular and Regional guidelines. The Preventive Report can also be used for preliminary agency evaluation to request guidance on the appropriate EIM level to submit. The guidelines are available for download as zipped Microsoft Word files in Spanish from INE's web site at: http://ine.gob.mx/dgoeia/impacto/guias.html.

The procedures for submitting the EIM applications have also been modified. As part of the federal government's administrative decentralization efforts, INE's Directorate of Environmental Impact issued a directive on November 21, 2000 titled "Technical, Administrative, Systems and Procedural Guidelines for the Decentralization of the Evaluation and Ruling of Preventive Reports and Environmental Impact Manifests in the Particular Mode". This directive grants project promoters the option of submitting EIM applications either at INE's national headquarters in Mexico City, or at the agency's regional offices, which are located in all state capitals. It also authorizes the regional offices to evaluate and issue rulings (approval or rejection) on EIM applications in the Preventive Report and Particular categories in certain development sectors. The directive spells out specific criteria and limitations to be followed by the regional offices, such as INE's prerogative to pull certain projects with high visibility, local opposition, or sponsored by a state agency, for central review, and their review of regional office decisions prior to publication. Also, projects involving highly hazardous activities or chemicals must continue to submit the risk assessment component of the EIM to Mexico City for evaluation by the Risk and Hazardous Activities Directorate. The timeline for project review spelled out in the regulations must be adhered to in all cases.

The new environmental impact regulation is available in English and Spanish on the MexRegs.com regulatory web site.

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.

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

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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.