FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 25, 2007
Contact:Brendan Cummings, attorney, Center for Biological Diversity, 760-366-2232 x. 304
Shaye Wolf, seabird biologist, University of California, 831-421-0326
Rory Cox, California program director, Pacific Environment, 415-399-8850 x 302
NAFTA Environmental Commission Rules
Against Liquefied Natural Gas Facility on U.S.-Mexico Border
Recommends Full Investigation of Chevron Proposal to Build LNG Terminal
Next to Seabird Colonies on Coronado Islands
SAN DIEGO, Calif.- The Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a tri-national commission set up under the North American Free Trade Agreement, announced today that it was rejecting a request by Mexico to suspend an investigation into whether Mexico violated its own laws in approving a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility next to a biodiversity hotspot on the U.S. border.
In 2005, U.S. and Mexican conservation organizations filed a formal petition with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation to challenge the Mexican government’s granting of permits to Chevron to build the LNG terminal just 600 yards from the Coronado Islands. The Coronado Islands, 11 miles south of the U.S. border, are a biodiversity hotspot that provide critical nesting habitat for six threatened or endangered seabird species and 10 other species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.
“The Coronado Islands are home to some of the most important seabird colonies on the West Coast,” said Shaye Wolf, a University of California biologist who has studied the birds on the islands. “Building this facility would be devastating for the Xantu's murrelet and the other imperiled species of the islands.” The Xantu's murrelet is currently under consideration for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and is extremely sensitive to disturbance and light pollution. The Coronado Islands house the largest remaining breeding colonies of the species.
The Commission was created by the environmental side agreement to NAFTA in order to prevent “maquiladora”-style projects. When NAFTA was negotiated there was a substantial fear that the lifting of trade barriers would result in the increased flight of polluting industries and dangerous projects to areas where environmental and health and safety laws were not enforced. The side agreement was intended to prevent a race to the bottom. Accordingly, the environmental side agreement to NAFTA provides a process for citizens of any of the NAFTA countries to challenge the nation’s failure to enforce its environmental laws.
“This facility would be such a disaster to seabirds and fish that it could not lawfully be built in the United States,” said Brendan Cummings, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Commission’s ruling indicates that building it would violate Mexican law as well.”
In today’s ruling, the Secretariat of the Commission called for an investigation into whether the Mexican government properly considered alternatives to the project and sufficiently analyzed the impacts of the terminal on endangered species.
The original petition was submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace Mexico, Alfonso Aguirre, Shaye Wolf, American Bird Conservancy, Los Angeles Audubon, Pacific Environment, and Wildcoast.
A copy of the petition and supporting documents are available at
The CEC’s announcement and finding are available at