Argentina: Proposed Law for Environmental Impact Assessments

Oct 10th, 2013 | By | Category: Environmental Management

EHS Journal - Neve by Leia Mendes Cook

Minimum standards governing the regulation and conduct of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) would be established by a proposed new law recently submitted to Argentina’s National House of Representatives. The draft law seeks to harmonize provincial and industry-specific legislation by setting the minimum environmental protection standards that every regulation, province, or industry must follow in order to carry out activities that might have an impact on the environment.

Under the proposed law, an EIA would be required for any person or corporation engaging in any work or activity capable of harming the environment.

Currently in Argentina, several provinces have issued different rules for EIAs in their territory; and existing national regulations for EIAs only apply to specific industries, such as hydrocarbon extraction or mining.

 

Argentina’s Draft EIA Law

The draft law would create a framework within which provincial authorities would be obliged to develop and adopt local EIA regulations that are at least as stringent as the national requirements. Consequently, the impact of the law would be stronger in provinces that currently have little or no EIA regulations — Catamarca, Entre Rios, Jujuy, La Rioja, and San Luis. In the other nineteen provinces, the draft law would force the harmonization of existing EIA regulations.

In addition to requiring preparation and submittal of EIAs for a wide range of activities and operations, the law would establish a register of qualified professionals who are certified to conduct and submit EIAs, and also require completion of periodic environmental audits of new and existing projects.

 

Projects Capable of Harming the Environment

According to the draft law, projects that are “capable of harming the environment” would include operations:

  • Affecting ecosystem equilibrium, composition, quality, or functioning;
  • Affecting the environmental services that ecosystems provide; or
  • Causing a serious impact on urban or rural communities.

Annex I of the draft law also provides a list of specific projects and activities for which operators would be obliged to conduct an EIA, for example, generation and transportation of energy or handling and storing of radioactive materials. Nevertheless, the proposal also establishes that each provincial authority would be entitled to further develop such a list once the law is passed. 

 

EIA Procedure

Developing an EIA would entail the following mandatory stages:

  • Affidavit – the project promoter must submit a brief description of the project and its potential impact on the environment.
  • EIA – the EIA must be prepared by specialized professionals who are registered with the Register of Professionals created by the law. The EIA would have to include, for example, a management plan on the identified types of impacts including mitigation and restoration measures; and control, monitoring, and audit plans for every stage of the project.
  • Technical report – the competent authority will review the EIA and issue a technical report containing a detailed environmental, social, and economic analysis of the EIA.
  • Public hearing – a public hearing aimed at obtaining feedback from the public concerning the project will be held.
  • Environmental Impact Declaration (EID) – the competent authority will issue the EID either denying or approving the project based on the EIA and the comments obtained from the public hearing.

 

Environmental Audits

According to the draft law, both new and existing operations would be required to conduct environmental management audits every two years. Existing operations would have to conduct the first environmental audit within one year of adoption of the proposed law. These audits would have to be conducted by qualified individuals who would have to be registered in the Register of Professionals that each provincial authority would have to create.

The aim of the audits would be to verify the environmental management of the project, i.e., the impact produced in each phase of the work on the environment, its components, and neighboring communities; an analysis on the use of natural resources; implementation of monitoring and mitigation plans; etc. The audits would have to be conducted at least every twenty-four months.

 

Conclusion

Argentina’s proposed EIA law will have far-reaching impacts if adopted. Although setting minimum standards and harmonizing the country’s EIA laws will simplify compliance for corporations performing activities in different jurisdictions within Argentina, many states and industries will be faced with EIA requirements for the first time. These requirements will bring a wide range of activities judged as being potentially harmful to the environment under close regulatory scrutiny and public comment, and operators will need to not only follow the new regulatory requirements, but also verify their mitigation strategies through routine environmental audits.

 

About the Author

Enrique Jaramillo is a regulatory consultant in the Brussels, Belgium office of Enhesa. He is an Ecuadorian-trained EHS regulatory expert with more than four years of professional experience. He specializes in Latin American EHS law and is responsible for analyzing EHS Regulation from the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mr. Jaramillo’s key experience includes the procedures of audit protocols in Ecuador, as well as occupational safety and health inspections. He holds a degree of Law awarded by the Catholic University of Guayaquil, a tax specialist degree granted by the Castilla-La Mancha University in Spain, as well as two LL.M’s in Law and Economics awarded by the University of Hamburg and the University of Bologna.

Photograph: Neve by Leia Mendes Cook, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil.

 

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One Comment to “Argentina: Proposed Law for Environmental Impact Assessments”

  1. Hello,
    Thank you for giving credit to my photography.
    Bye
    http://www.coisasdaleia.com.br

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