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Peruvian Environmental Law

Law & Regulations

Law & Regulations

Law & Regulations

Even though several laws with environmental provisions, such as the abrogated General Water Law of 1969, have existed since the sixties, an organized framework of environmental regulations in Peru has only started developing in the last decade with the enactment of the 1990 Environmental and Natural Resources Code, abrogated by the Environmental Act (Law No. 28611 of September 15, 2005), which is in force.
Based on the 1990 Environmental Code, the first sectoral regulations were enacted. The Energy and Mining Environmental Regulations were the first to be enacted in 1993, followed by the Manufacturing Industry Sector in 1997, and Fisheries in 1999 (already abrogated). 

1997 constituted a milestone in the development of Peruvian environmental law with the enactment of the Protected Natural Areas Law (Law No. 26834 of July 4, 1997), the Law on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity (Law No. 26839 of July 16, 1997), and the Law on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources (Law No. 26821 of June 26, 1997). 

The latest legal step towards an efficient national environmental management system at the cross-sectoral level, was made when Congress passed the law creating the National System for Environmental Impact Assessment and the Environmental Certification (Law No. 27446 of April 23, 2000). With the future publication of regulations under this law, Environmental Certification will be a prerequisite for all investment projects, both public and private. 

Regarding the ministry-specific environmental regulations, each sector (each Ministry), including Agriculture, Fisheries, Industry, Energy and Mines, and Transportation have established their own environmental regulations, which include mechanisms for preparation and development of Environmental Impact Assessments and end of pipe discharge limits (in some cases). 

Before the Environmental Code was enacted, Municipalities already had the power to control and provide regulations related to environmental health, safety, and sanitation and set out measures to control noise, traffic and public transportation. Local ordinances on these issues existed before 1990. 

The Peruvian Political Constitution

Article 2,22 of the Constitution dictates that all persons have the right to benefit from an environment that is suitable for the development of life. The Government ("el Estado") establishes the national environmental policy and promotes sustainable use of natural resources (Article 67). 

Regarding natural resources, the Constitution established that they are the country's wealth ("patrimonio de la Nación"). Therefore, the State regulates the utilization of natural resources and establishes, through further regulations, the national environmental policy and promotes their sustainable use. 

Articles 66 through 68 establish the framework for the use of natural resources. They are classified as renewable and non-renewable natural resources. It establishes that the use of natural resources by individuals and private companies had to be regulated by Law ("Ley Orgánica"). In 1997, four years after the Constitution was passed, the Congress enacted such statute, Law on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources, Law 26821, published on June 26, 1997. 

The Agency in charge of defining, planning and regulating the country's environmental policy is the Ministry of the Environment, created in 2008.

The Environmental Act, Law Nº 28611
("Ley General del Ambiente") 

The Environmental Code, approved by Legislative Decree No. 613, on September 1990, was the starting point for the existing body of environmental statutes and regulations. It approved an overall, interdisciplinary legislative framework, focusing on general environmental issues, and establishing for the first time the general guidelines for a National Environmental Policy.

15 years later, in 2005, the Congress passed the Environmental Act, following criteria priorly included in the former Environmental Code and introducing new issues like environmental governance and new environmental liability concepts. Specific legal aspects applicable to solid waste management, hazardous waste management, granting of water rights use, access to protected areas, protection of wildlife, land use, among other environmental issues, are not covered in detail. The General Environmental Act, as a cross-sectorial framework law, therefore, does not cover specific regulations on these matters, which are treated in a general manner, though some exceptions may exist.

The Environmental Act contains general rules and principles of environmental policy that shall be considered as minimum standards for all activities. Based on the Act, each Ministry enacts environmental regulations applicable to activities under its jurisdiction (such as mining, oil and gas, manufacturing industries and fisheries).   

Main Statutes

The following is a chronological list of the main statutes related to environmental matters. Regulations approved for these statutes are not listed.

  • Water Act, Decree Law 17752, enacted on July 27, 1969.
  • Civil Code. See Article 954, Natural Resources and Property Rights.
  • The Municipalities Law, Law 23853, enacted on June 9, 1984.
  • Environmental and Natural Resources Code, Legislative Decree No. 613, enacted on September 8th 1990.
  • Criminal Code, Legislative Decree No. 635. Enacted on April 4th 1991. See Title XIII, Environmental Offenses.
  • Private Investment Growth Law, Legislative Decree No. 757, enacted on November 13, 1991.
  • National Environmental Council Law, Law No. 26410, enacted on December 22, 1994
  • Law on Rules for Criminal Procedures Regarding Environmental Offenses, Law No. 26631, enacted on August 21st
  • Law of Environmental Impact Assessment on Works and Activities, Law No 26786, enacted on May 13, 1997
  • Law on the Sustainable Use of the Natural Resources, Law No 26821, enacted on June 26, 1997
  • Law on Protected Natural Areas, Law No 26834, enacted on July 4, 1997
  • Law on the Sustainable Use and Conservation of the Biological Diversity, Law No 26839, enacted on July 16, 1997
  • Law on Geothermic Resources, Law No 26848, enacted on July 29, 1997
  • Health Law, Law 26842, enacted on July 20, 1997.
  • Law on the Prevention of Risks Related to Biotechnology, Law 27104, enacted on May 12, 1999.
  • Law on the Sustainable Use of Curative Plants, Law No. 27300, enacted on July 8, 2000.
  • Forestry and Wildlife Law, Law 27308, enacted on July 16, 2000.
  • Solid Waste Law, Law 27314, enacted on July 21, 2000.
  • Law on the Efficient Use of Energy, Law No. 27345, enacted on September 8, 2001.
  • National Environmental Impact Assessment System Law, Law No. 27446, enacted on April 23, 2001.

Environmental Regulations

The current Mining Environmental Regulations ("Reglamento para la Protección Ambiental en la Actividad Minero Metalúrgica") were enacted in 1993 through Supreme Decrees 16-93-EM and 59-93-EM. The Environmental Regulation for Mining Exploration ("Reglamento Ambiental para las Actividades de Exploración Minera"), Supreme Decree 38-98-EM, published on November 30, 1998, regulates mining exploration. 

Two of the articles of the Mining Environmental Regulations were modified in 1999. Supreme Decree 029-99-EM modified Article 20 on the extension of production capacity and the need to submit a new EIA. Supreme Decree 058-99-EM stated the procedure to follow in case of non compliance with the Environmental Compliance and Management Program ("PAMA"). 

Community relations and public participation in the approval process is a main concern at the Ministry of Energy and Mines. The Environmental Regulation for Mining included a few considerations on public participation. Specific regulations on this matter were enacted in January, 2000, Regulation for Public Participation in the Environmental Assessment Approval Procedure ("Reglamento de Participación Ciudadana en el Procedimiento de Aprobación de los Estudios Ambientales"), through Ministerial Resolution 728-99-EM/VMM. This foster participation at the community level. 

Manufacturing Industry 
Supreme Decree 19-97-ITINCI --enacted in 1997-- approved the Environmental Protection Regulation for Manufacturing Activities. This was the first step taken by MITINCI towards environmental protection and "clean production". This is a particularly difficult task for MITINCI, considering that this Ministry deals with more than thirty sub-sectors. 

The 1997 regulation is the first Peruvian environmental regulation considering pollution prevention criteria. Peru is one of the first Latin American countries to pass pollution prevention (P2) regulations for the Industrial Sector. 

According to this regulation, the titleholder of manufacturing activities is responsible for the emission, discharge, dumping and disposal of wastes originating from processes carried out at his facilities, and for any damage caused to the health or safety of individuals, and for adverse impacts on the ecosystem. The title holders of manufacturing activities have the obligation to implement, and keep in place, contamination prevention programs, adopt appropriate sampling systems, and make the necessary chemical, physical, biological, mechanical and other analyses to monitor liquid effluents, solid wastes, gaseous emissions, noise, etc. Eventually, all industrial activities will have to meet the technology standards of the 1997 regulation. Four sub-sectors are initially addressed by MITINCI: cement, breweries, tanneries and paper. 

Right now, all new operations are obliged to submit EIA's. Previous existing operations must submit Environmental Compliance and Management Programs (PAMA). Since the Environmental Bureau is still implementing the regulations, no company is obliged to submit a PAMA yet. However, as a protection for environmental claims, some operations have been presenting PAMAs.