Response Letter, July 2005
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
WASHINGTON D.C. 20460
JUL 15 2005
Associate Professor of Law Pennsylvania State University
150 South College Street
Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013
Dear Mr. Knox:
On behalf of the Administrator, thank you for the National Advisory Committee's (NAC) May 20, 2005 advice, in follow-up to your April 27-29 2005 meeting in Washington, D.C. He shared with me that he thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the NAC at the 12t Regular Session of the Council in Quebec City. With the NAC's support and guidance, we are committed to providing improved EPA attention to CEC matters. I appreciate that your letter of advice shows an understanding of the challenges we face to adequately staff; coordinate with other agencies, and be fully responsive to a complex and productive Commission such as the CEC.
On behalf of the EPA Administrator and the United States, we offer the following responses to your advice:
Facilitating Private Sector Contributions to Capacity-Building in Mexico
We agree with the NAC's recommendations and those of the TRAC 2004 report to better engage the private sector in the work of the CEC and we see great value in convening high-level meetings with business representatives to develop synergies among existing private sector capacity building efforts. As you know, during the 12th Session of the Council of the CEC, we held fruitful discussions with the leaders of business associations. We discussed how the Parties could individually and collectively interest the private sector in taking actions consistent with the CEC's three pillars. The United States will make outreach to the business community a priority during our year as Chair of the CEC Council. We have begun internal discussions on what specific activities will best encourage, facilitate and transfer those private efforts already being made and identify new ones to engage a broader spectrum of business sectors.
The Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) also held a public workshop
during the 12th Session entitled, "Needs and Opportunities for Capacity
Building among Private and Non-Profit Sectors" which featured business
leaders and not for profit organizations. We are looking forward to receiving
JPAC's insights garnered from that meeting.
Finally, the Council adopted Resolution: 05-06: Expanding Partnerships with the Private Sector and other Stakeholders. The Resolution formalized our collaboration between the private sector and other stakeholders, facilitating cooperation and increasing their involvement in the implementation of the CEC's Program. A copy of the Resolution is enclosed.
The NAC also recommended that the CEC distribute the Agenda of the Business
Roundtable and the presentations made there on disc and/or on-line as well
as in hard copy. We have posted the Roundtable presentations at
www.epa.gov/ocem/nac/private sector roundtable_presentations.htm which is also linked to the CEC web site.
Report of the Ten-Year Review and Assessment Committee (TRAC) Report
The NAC recommended that in Quebec City, we commit to adopting the TRAC recommendations and work with the other Parties and the Secretariat to implement those that have not been executed. As you know, the TRAC members met with Council at the 2004 Puebla Session. At that meeting, Council decided to pursue the spirit of the recommendations and decided further that there was no need for a formal implementation process.
CEC Reporting Procedures
We agree that CEC publication issues need to be better managed. Good reporting is one of the CEC's most important functions and the development of clear guidelines for classifying reports and maintaining their scientific integrity is one of the US Government's highest priorities. To better ensure that the right officials are being promptly informed and involved in CEC matters related to their expertise, we are improving internal U.S. Government protocol and our communications with the Secretariat.
The Secretariat has completed an examination of the CEC's implementation of Article 13, which will help improve practices and procedures for selecting and producing future Article 13 reports. In this report, independent expert Professor David Wirth, also recommends the US National Academy of Science Model on how to obtain input from experts and how science questions are approached in policy settings. This report was recently distributed to the JPAC; a copy is enclosed for your review.
EPA is in the process of finalizing a US Government position on the CEC
Framework for Quality Management. This document will be shared tri-laterally
and with our public advisory committees as soon as possible.
EPA attention to CEC Matters
We agree that the availability of sufficient staffing is critical to work with internal and external agencies as well as coordinate with and leverage partnerships. This year, OIA has successfully filled 2 critical staff vacancies dedicated to CEC business. These personnel actions have been completed and personnel have recently reported to duty: Nevertheless, it is important to note that attendance at meetings is not the only way to have critical participation of staff in the CEC process. Colleagues from EPA's Office of Cooperative Environmental Management are key participants in OIA's discussions and often act as our eyes and ears at meetings we are unable to attend.
I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the relationship between the Security
and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and the work of the CEC. The SPP established
Head of State-level priorities for ongoing and new trilateral and bilateral
initiatives, giving existing efforts additional momentum and creating new
programs and initiatives where necessary and appropriate. The SPP was designed
to complement the work of the CEC. The Prosperity leg of the Partnership
is composed of ten working groups. Of the ten, EPA has engaged in the three
that are most relevant to our work: Environment, Manufactured Goods, and
Food and Agriculture. While the State Department has the overall U.S. Government
lead for the Environment working group, EPA is very active within that working
group and has the U.S. Government lead in two specific priority areas: air
and water. Thus, the long-standing trade, economic and environmental relationships
among the three countries in North America are energized by the added support
from the highest levels of the U.S. Government but will not replace or overlap
activities undertaken in the CEC Operational Plan.
We appreciate the NAC's concerns and recommendations on staffing and integrating with other U.S. agencies. EPA leads a robust intra and interagency process that ensures a coherent, well thought-out U.S. Government position on all issues that come before the Council. We understand that this process may not always be apparent, as it is internal to the U.S. Government. Please be assured that outreach to our fellow governmental agencies is an integral part of the process of reaching consensus on U.S. positions.
NAC Terms Nearing Expiration
Thank you for noting that several NAC member's terms are nearing expiration.
EPA fully intends to appoint new members and/or renew current members of
the committee by the time of the next NAC meeting in October 2005.
Thank you also for noting your appreciation of our EPA personnel who participated and provided briefings at your April meeting and your thoughtful advice.
Acting Director, Office of International Environmental Policy
|1.||CEC Resolution: 05-06: Expanding Partnerships with the Private Sector and other Stakeholders (June 2005)|
|2.||The NACEC Implementation of Article 13 of the North American Agreement of Environmental Cooperation (June 2005)|
|cc||Members of the U.S. National Advisory Committee|