Response Letter, February 6, 2004
Associate Professor of Law
Pennsylvania State University
150 South College Street
Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013
Dear Mr. Knox:
Thank you for the National Advisory Committee's (NAC) October 29 advice in follow-up to your October meeting. Your advice on the 2004-2006 Operational Plan; the U.S. long-term strategic approach for CEC; the NAFTA technical working groups; the CEC ten-year review; and the article 14/15 citizen submissions procedure, has been considered in great depth over the last several months, and through the negotiations of the 2004-2006 CEC Operational Plan.
On behalf of the EPA Administrator and the United States, we offer the following response to your advice.
CEC Operational Plan
We welcome the National Advisory Committee's support for the four primary goals for the CEC as defined in the 2004-06 version of the Operational Plan. These goals will be discussed in further detail by the Alternate Representatives in the coming months. The objective of these discussions will be to establish goals that are representative of the commitments of the Parties, the Secretariat, and the public, taking into account the conclusions of the ten-year review.
We are in full agreement with the NAC's recommendations to make the Operational Plan focus on environmental results, and to assess past performance in light of past goals. We also agree that the Secretariat should strengthen partnerships, and consider "handing off " projects to other entities from the beginning of a project. Although changes of this nature were not possible in the 2004-06 version of the Operational Plan, these are the kinds of recommendations we have made to the Secretariat for their preparation of next year's Operational Plan.
U.S. Strategic Approach to the CEC
We appreciate the NAC's consideration of the working goals of the developing U.S. position in regard to the CEC strategic plan. As we explained at the meeting in October, we will be using this strategic approach in the development of a long-term strategic plan for the CEC which will take into account the results of the ten-year review. Consistent with your advice, we expect the U.S. position to support measurement standards, public participation, and priority-setting. Your comments will be further considered as we continue the work of developing a U.S. strategic approach to the CEC.
NAFTA Technical Working Groups
We appreciate the NAC's advice on the coordination of CEC and FTC Committee and Technical Working Group activities and can assure the NAC that USG staff regularly interact and coordinate issues that may span these groups, particularly within EPA and also among sister agencies. For example, for the Automotive Standards Council (ASC), various experts on these topics (including those working on the NAAWG) are regularly in close coordination at the technical level. The NAC also raises a good point with respect to consistent procedures for public participation in its meetings and across relevant Committee Technical Working Groups, and this is something that can be explored further.
EPA recognizes the importance of coordinating on automobile emissions issues with Canada and Mexico. The ASC is the appropriate forum to conduct technical discussions and determine if policy issues need to be raised for further discussions with country-specific governmental representatives or with NAFTA coordinating bodies. However, the most appropriate body for addressing auto emissions harmonization issues resides in the UN. EPA was instrumental in the development of a global agreement under the United Nations (UN) that is intended to reduce the divergence of regulations from all parts of the world and thereby promote the free flow of trade in the automotive sector. EPA is committed to advance global harmonization of motor vehicle environmental regulations through the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29). EPA has been working on a continuous basis with Canada, both in North America and within the UN World Forum, to reduce divergence of our respective regulations. In addition, EPA has and continues to provide assistance to Mexico, as requested, in all aspects of air pollution, including that produced by motor vehicles.
Over the years, the NAFTA Technical Working Group on Pesticides (TWG) has coordinated several of its activities with relevant CEC program areas and will continue to do so in the future. For example, the TWG has provided valuable input to the Sound Management of Chemicals work on lindane such as scientific review information from the re-evaluation of lindane in the United States and Canada. The TWG has also been involved in the CEC Children's Environmental Health initiative, most recently as a co-sponsor of the 2003 risk assessment workshop held in Oaxaca, Mexico with TWG members participating in the planning and execution of this successful event. EPA Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) representatives to the TWG also coordinate internally with the Office of International Affairs on complementary areas of work with the CEC program. While TWG meetings have been informally announced within CEC venues, we will explore posting of future TWG meeting announcements on the CEC Calendar of Events, as well as adding a direct link to the TWG websites on the CEC home page. In the meantime, please note that both EPA and the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) maintain TWG websites, featuring the most recent five-year strategy and companion workplan document for the TWG at the following locations:
- EPA TWG Website at www.epa.gov/oppfead1/international/naftatwg/
- PMRA TWG Website at www.hc_sc.gc.ca/pmra_arla/english/intern/twg_e.html
You will note that the EPA website contains extensive information regarding pesticide harmonization efforts under the TWG, including notices, agendas, and summaries of TWG meetings, a list of contact points for each TWG project currently underway, and accomplishment sheets for completed projects. Additionally, the EPA OPP international home page links to the CEC website as well.
The Ten-Year Review
Thank you for your comments and suggestions on the work of the Ten-year Review Advisory Committee (TRAC), and its ten-year review. Your suggestions have been forwarded to the TRAC for their consideration. We have also done a records search to find the letters of the NAC and GAC and our responses to your advice, and these letters have been forwarded to the TRAC for their consideration.
Article 14/15 Citizens Submissions Procedure
We appreciate your advice regarding the Articles 14/15 Citizens Submissions process. The U.S. remains committed to this very important tool of public participation, and will continue working with the other CEC Parties, the Secretariat, and the public to ensure that the process remains consistent with the letter and intent of the NAAEC. The U.S. also recognizes the need for open and responsive engagement, and we are continuing discussions with the other Parties to adopt an appropriate procedure for a thorough, public review of CR 00-09, as well as the general operation of the Articles 14/15 process. The outcome of the review, coupled with the important advice provided by our advisory groups, will inform the Council as it determines whether any changes in procedure or practice will be necessary to improve the effectiveness of the public submissions provisions of the NAAEC.
In regard to the Factual record on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), it was reviewed and received serious consideration at the highest levels of the relevant U.S. agencies. These agencies have concluded that in the instances in question, proper procedure was followed. Your suggestions for further follow-up by the Enforcement Working Group (EWG) on this issue have been forwarded to that group for their consideration.
Work of the National Advisory Committee
We appreciate the initiative of the NAC in providing us with points of contact for each of the priority areas of the CEC. We will provide this list to the appropriate leads in the EPA, in order to keep these specialists "in the loop" throughout the year. A list of appropriate points of contact for each of these areas within the EPA is attached. In addition, if you have any general concerns, I encourage you to contact Evonne Marzouk of my staff at 202-564-7529 or Oscar Carrillo of the Office of Cooperative Environmental Management (OCEM) at 202-233-0072.
Thank you again for your thoughtful advice on strengthening the work of the CEC, and your ongoing work to address environmental challenges in North America. I look forward to your continued involvement with the CEC in the coming years.
Judith E. Ayres
cc: NAC Members