By: Lizbet Espinosa
The Federal Environmental Responsibility Law (FERL) stands as the central regulation governing liability for environmental damage and the associated processes of remediation and compensation. These processes are triggered through diverse judicial and administrative procedures, such as collective actions, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and criminal proceedings, among others, defined by Mexican laws.
Within the FERL, the environmental remediation action is distinct from collective actions regulated under civil law. Unlike collective actions, the environmental remediation action focuses not on patrimonial damages but on restoring harm inflicted on the environment. Environmental damage holds three specific characteristics: it does not pertain to individually divisible patrimonial elements; monetary reparations are insufficient for its restoration, and its effects endure over time.
The first execution of the environmental remediation action occurred in the case of the Balvanera company in Querétaro. The PROFEPA applied this action upon discovering unauthorized real estate activities. After a precautionary embargo of $48,020,000.00 MXN, the company agreed with the environmental authority to use alternative dispute resolution methods outlined in the FERL. Ultimately, the company paid nearly 11 million pesos for repairs, contributions to the Environmental Responsibility Fund, and additional penalties.
Nevertheless, the FERL contemplates preventive incentives, such as environmental excellence certificates, which reduce economic sanctions in cases of environmental damage if companies possess them or have compliance systems in place.