Response Letter, May 2006
M. Dolores Wesson
Chair, U.S. National Advisory Committee
Coastal Observing Research and Development Center
Marine Physical Laboratory
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
La Jolla, CA 92093-0202
Dear Ms. Wesson:
On behalf of Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, I would like to thank you for the National Advisory Committee’s (NAC) May 5, 2006 letter reporting on its April 2006 meeting and providing valuable advice on five major topics. I am looking forward to meeting with you and your colleagues and EPA Administrator Johnson, on June 27th at the Council Session.
The NAC’s advice on expanding partnerships with the private sector and other stakeholders, CEC publications and information products, working groups, Articles 14 & 15, and procedures for hiring the CEC Executive Director, has been considered by our experts and program coordinators in preparation for the 2006 Council Session. The NAC’s advice will be considered further as they work on CEC management improvements and next year’s operational plan. On behalf of the EPA Administrator and the United States Government, I am pleased to offer the following response to the NAC's advice:
On Expanding Partnerships with the Private Sector and Other Stakeholders Initiative:
We appreciate the NAC’s advice and support for our developing partnership with the North American automotive industry, which began with the helpful meetings and discussions of the NAC and GAC last spring. We have taken your advice into consideration in the development of this program, which we intend to incorporate into the CEC Operational Plan for 2006. We will continue to consider your advice for the development of this and other programs related to the private sector and greening the supply chain.
The 2006 project will build upon the CEC’s initial work on greening supply chains, as well as Canada’s current green supply chain initiative, and the United States Green Suppliers Network. The effort will focus on multinational automotive companies with supply chains that cross North American borders. We are in the process of drafting the workplan for the program, and we will circulate this draft for your review when it is completed. We recognize the NAC’s strong advice that recognition, incentives, and training be incorporated into this program.
CEC Publications and Information Products:
We appreciate the NAC’s support for the latest draft of the CEC’s Quality Assurance Policy and Procedures for Publications and Information Products. The Alternate Representatives, acting on behalf of the CEC Council, have approved this document “in principle,” and our goal is to finalize this document in time for approval at the Council Session. These procedures will help ensure that information provided by the CEC to North American decision makers and the public is scientifically sound, objective, credible, and based on the best data and information available. This is a significant accomplishment.
We appreciate your advice that the CEC set up a method to keep track of successes related to its activities, and make this information widely available and accessible through the publication of brochures, the CEC website, and other appropriate methods. We agree that promotion of the CEC’s results is critical to its reputation in North America. As you know, in order to track and report results we need to be able to measure them. Therefore, Council will be working with the Secretariat in the coming months to develop performance measures and indicators for the CEC work program.
Thank you for your advice on the restructuring of the CEC working groups. Since your meeting in April, EPA has hosted two interagency meetings that included members of the principal work groups to discuss options for reorganizing the CEC work group structure in relationship to the strategic pillars. The challenge is in devising an efficient structure that ensures that the CEC work program is in alignment with its strategy. The U.S. position on this issue is still being determined and the advice of the NAC will be considered fully during interagency deliberations.
On Articles 14 & 15:
The public submission process of the NAAEC is a unique feature of the Agreement, and certainly has been considered an innovative mechanism for involving citizens in discussions on trade and its effects on the environment. We agree that it is an important element for achieving transparency and public participation in North America. The Council commends the Secretariat for the high quality research that has gone into the
preparation of the factual records, and the extensive information provided in their reports. The United States supports the citizen submission process.
Notwithstanding this support, however, the United States cannot support the NAC recommendation to expedite U.S. decisions on the development of factual records and to approve the Secretariat’s recommendations without modification. Each factual record deals with individual and specific issues which require consideration on a case-by-case basis. The Council deliberates carefully each time it is presented with a Secretariat's recommendation that a factual record is warranted for a submission, and it is only after thorough consideration of all of the facts and circumstances at issue with respect to the submission that the Council votes on the determination. We will continue this practice for pending and future submissions.
Procedures for Hiring the CEC Executive Director:
Thank you for your advice regarding development of hiring procedures and qualifications for the position of CEC Executive Director. As you know, the next Executive Director will come from Mexico. On May 30, Mexico published an announcement in several Mexican newspapers requesting applications for the position of a new CEC Executive Director. An announcement from the CEC also was published on its website. The current Executive Director's term expires on August 31. The United States has shared with Mexico and Canada the qualifications statement and hiring procedures that were used to hire the current Executive Director. The United States will be working closely with Mexico and Canada to ensure that the selection process is transparent, competitive, and results in a pool of highly qualified candidates being considered for the position. It is my understanding that the search committee that Mexico has assembled includes three representatives from civil society. As you know, the final decision will be made by the CEC Council.
As always, the United States appreciates the advice of the National Advisory Committee, which helps us to create a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable North American environment for future generations. We also appreciate your identification of issue experts on individual CEC projects, which will certainly be helpful as we begin to draft the 2007 Operational Plan. We look forward to seeing you at the Council Session.
Judith E. Ayres
|cc:||Plácido dos Santos, Chair, U.S. Governmental
Carlos Sandoval Olvera, Chair, Joint Public Advisory Committee
Members of the U.S. National Advisory Committee