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Mexico's Legal System of Environmental Protection

August 1994

Citation: ELR 10431

Author: Anne Rowley

Editors' Summary: Nongovernmental organizations and other critics of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have raised serious environmental concerns about Mexico's participation in NAFTA. The U.S. EPA has attempted to address these concerns by evaluating Mexican environmental laws, regulations, and standards. This Article is based on EPA's evaluation and provides a general overview of Mexico's environmental legal system, although its does not review Mexico's state and local environmental laws or its federal mechanisms for environmental law enforcement. The author examines Mexico's environmental government institutions; public participation mechanisms; and approach to environmental impact assessment, air pollution control, water pollution control, waste management, pesticides and toxic substances control, and environmental contingency planning and emergency response. The author concludes that Mexico has established the foundation of a credible legal framework to control environmental contamination, which if fully implemented and enforced, can provide relatively high levels of environmental protection.

Ms. Rowley is a staff attorney in the International Activities Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of General Counsel. The opinions expressed in this Article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect opinions of EPA. Ms. Rowley wishes to express appreciation to the following EPA employees whose analyses contributed to the production of the EPA EVALUATION OF MEXICO'S ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS, REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS, on which this Article is based: William Tyndall, Joseph Freedman, Joseph Vitalis, Marta Piniero, Efren Ordonez, Carrie Wehling, Steven Wolfson, Thomas Marshall, Lawrence Sperling, Lourdes Bufill, Maricruz Maguaran, and David van Hoogstraten.

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