Guillermo Haro
Federal Attorney
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Energy Sector Pursues Environmental Compliance

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:16

Q: What advancements has Mexico made regarding actions to combat climate change?

A: In 2010, Mexico’s greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 784 million tonnes of CO2, a 19% increase from 2001. In fact, Mexico was among the 15 countries that emitted the highest levels of greenhouse gases in 2010, accounting for 1.4% of global emissions. With this in mind, Mexico’s achievements in this area are of global relevance, and the country is promoting policies and strategies to effectively fight climate change. Between 2010 and 2013, Mexico reduced its CO2 equivalent emissions by 4.5%, going from 637 million tonnes to 606 million tonnes. In addition to the creation of the General Climate Change Law and the National Climate Change Strategy, states have been given the faculties to draft their own Climate Change State Strategies. This will enable states to adopt and create tailored and locally focused measures to decrease polluting emissions and reduce their vulnerability.

Q: What will be some of PROFEPA’s activities in the energy sector?

A: PROFEPA signed an agreement with PEMEX so that all of its facilities voluntarily comply with environmental regulations. At the moment, 30% of PEMEX facilities have received certification. The process for awarding the certificate is completed through a thorough examination from independent auditors with credentials from the Mexican Accreditation Entity. The certificate is valid for two years, as its constant renewal allows monitoring a company’s evolution in terms of environmental compliance. Because of the creation of ASEA, PROFEPA no longer has any faculties related to PEMEX. Now, we are working with CFE on the same process. CFE is adopting international standards that even surpass Mexican norms. Likewise, new players are obliged to comply with environmental normativity just like any other domestic company. They will also be encouraged to demonstrate the necessary credentials for environmental standards in order to enter tenders.

Q: How is PROFEPA strengthening its capabilities now that the private sector will have a larger participation in the energy industry?

A: Currently, less than 1% of companies present serious irregularities worthy of sanctions. Also, the number of industries without irregularities found during inspections has increased significantly, reaching almost 40%. In general, we predict more attention from the private sector in complying with its environmental obligations.

PROFEPA is updating its staff’s technical capabilities in order to better implement the environmental legislation. We are also working on providing our personnel with better tools for their daily activities. PROFEPA is in the process of updating its environmental laboratories, and we have received resources to buy drones for inspection activities.

Q: How is PROFEPA working to strengthen its attributions and improve the environmental legislation?

A: PROFEPA does not have an organic law; it has attributions stated in the Organic Law of the Public Administration and in SEMARNAT’s internal regulation. PROFEPA is a decentralized organ of SEMARNAT, the head of the environmental sector. We are pushing for several initiatives, the first being a codification of the environmental legislation to create a single law that encompasses all aspects related to environmental affairs. Today there are ten important environmental legislations. The main one is the General Law of Protection of Ecological Balance (LEGEPA), with almost ten regulations, so we want to include every environmental rule in a single code. This will result in simpler, more unified laws, higher sanctions, and faster procedures for addressing and ruling cases.

Our other goal is to draft PROFEPA’s Organic Law, which would give us more independence from SEMARNAT. The fact that SEMARNAT governs PROFEPA creates confusion because we act as judge and jury. The idea is for PROFEPA to act as a decentralized organization with its own resources and rules. The last task is to create a National Environmental Responsibility Penal Law. A federal law will homogenize sanctions and modify conducts throughout the whole country. We are working with the executive branch and Congress so that we can present a legislative package as soon as possible.