The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources recently published the Environment and Natural Resources Sector Programme for 2020 to 2024, which is the nationwide policy on environment. The policy sets out five main objectives that will serve as a guide for all other federal and local environmental policies, strategies and decisions and includes various methods for determining the progress made on the implementation of its strategies and achieving the goals set for 2024.
The National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector recently published guidelines for dismantling hydrocarbon sector activities. The guidelines are mandatory for all hydrocarbon sector facilities that carry out closing, dismantling or abandonment activities.
In 2018 the New General Law for Sustainable Forest Development entered into force, introducing new legal definitions with regard to the forestry regulatory framework. In April 2020 a seemingly small yet quite relevant amendment to the law was published in the Federal Official Gazette, making various adjustments to the legal definitions set out in Article 7 of the law.
Given the current situation brought about by COVID-19 and the subsequent suspension of private and governmental activities, the National Waters Commission (CONAGUA) has been reconsidering its online procedures system, which was initially published in the Federal Official Gazette on 1 October 2018 but was not implemented until late 2019. CONAGUA's ultimate goal in this respect is the complete substitution of traditional in-person-initiated procedures with their digital counterparts.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Ecology and Climate Chance Institute are continuing to help Mexico achieve its climate-change-related air emissions goals through data analysis, policy management and the implementation of the emissions trading system pilot programme. As such, now is an ideal time for actors in industry and service sectors to evaluate their air emissions obligations. Further, additional obligations may apply to certain facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In October 2019 the General Circular Economy Law initiative was presented to the Senate for discussion and approval. The initiative was prepared in response to Mexico's increasing waste generation and aims to coordinate the attempts of the municipal, state and federal authorities to address this problem. As such, the initiative proposes granting several new powers to each level of government in order to foster the creation of a circular economy in Mexico.
The preliminary bases for Mexico's emissions trading system (ETS) pilot programme were recently published in the Federal Official Gazette. The ETS is one strategy adopted by Mexico to meet its goals under the Paris Agreement. The pilot programme will determine whether the ETS is a viable scheme for reducing Mexico's greenhouse gas emissions. Companies should follow the results closely, as these will be paramount in determining the characteristics of the operational phase.
The production of single-use plastics has increased exponentially in recent decades and in Mexico the volume of single-use plastic waste now exceeds the country's recycling capabilities. In response to growing concern over the effects that plastic waste may have on the environment, a series of legislative changes have recently been implemented. Companies should keep track of any waste-related initiatives introduced at the state and federal levels and prepare for upcoming changes to their obligations.
The National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector recently published NOM-001-ASEA-2019 (NOM-001) in the Federal Official Gazette. NOM-001's main aims are to establish criteria to classify the special types of waste produced in the hydrocarbons sector and establish which of these must be subject to a management plan, as well as determine the contents of special management and hazardous waste management plans.
In view of recent policy changes relating to hydrocarbons and gasoline distribution via pipelines, liability for the remediation of soil and water contamination derived from hydrocarbon spills and leaks at storage terminals and pipelines has become a hot topic. These policy changes have largely been aimed at tackling criminal activities that have contributed to soil and water contamination, such as fuel and hydrocarbon theft.
President Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has already published his environmental agenda, which sets out the objectives to be met and the strategies to be implemented during his six-year term. Under the agenda, a number of regulatory changes regarding air emissions, environmental impact assessments and coastal and marine zones will be introduced. In addition, Mexico will keep working towards its goals under the Paris Agreement and its administrative offices will undergo significant changes.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources recently published a decree granting administrative benefits for the issuance of new concession titles for exploiting national waters to persons that hold a title which expired after January 1 2004. Notably, the decree allows for the issuance of new concession titles even if the zone or specific aquifer from which the original concession title was authorised to extract water is now considered a restricted or banned zone or aquifer.