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Legal Framework: Environmental

Article 41 of the Constitution states that every inhabitant of the Republic of Argentina is entitled to an environment that is healthy, balanced and suitable for human development.

The Federal Government shall issue regulations containing the minimum protection standards, and that the provinces shall issue the regulations necessary to supplement those passed by the Federal Government.

In 2002, the Congress enacted Law No. 25675 that:

* Sets forth the principles of the environmental policy;

* Provides that any activity that might materially damage the environment or some of its components, or that negatively affects the population’s quality of life, will be subject to a previous environmental impact assessment;

* Provides that when remediation is not technically feasible, the compensation that a Court might establish shall be deposited in an Environmental Compensation Fund –created by the law– notwithstanding other judicial actions that might be applicable;

* Establishes that liability will only be released by providing proper evidence that, despite having adopted all the measures necessary to avoid the damage and without negligence by the responsible party, the damages were caused by the victim’s negligence or by the negligence of a third party for whom the responsible party shall not be liable.

* Sets forth the obligation to have an insurance policy in full force and effect materially enough to guarantee the financing of remediation works.

In addition, the Federal Constitution forbids the admission of actually or potentially hazardous waste into the country, as well as of radioactive waste.

The Federal Constitution provides for injunctive relief protection (amparo) against any action or omission of public or private authorities that actually or imminently impairs, restricts or threatens rights and warranties acknowledged by the Federal Constitution, including the rights protecting the environment.

The Federal Constitution further provides that environmental damage triggers the obligation to remediate the environment.

At federal level, there are general environmental provisions applicable to all activities, as well as sector provisions regulating specific activities. Among such general provisions, we may point out General Environmental Law No. 25675, Industrial Waste Integral Management Law No. 25612, Water Environmental Management Law No. 25688, Residential Waste Management Law No. 25916, Native Forests Law No. 26331 and Glacier and Periglacial Environment Preservation Law No. 26639. Sector provisions include: Environmental Protection Law No. 24585 concerning mining activities and Resolution No. 105/92 passed by the Argentine Secretary of Energy for hydrocarbon activities.

At provincial level, each province has broad legislation regarding the regulation of the land, air, water, wild flora and fauna, industrial and residential waste, as well as other environmental laws. Each province has a central body (ministry, secretary or provincial board) acting as competent authority for the control and surveillance of environmental rules and regulations. Some activities such as mining, hydrocarbons, agriculture and irrigation are subject to a sectoral body which controls and oversees compliance with specific environmental rules and regulations applicable to the sector.

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