Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: 8/15-19/2011


The controversial Isla Riesco coal-mining project took another step forward last Friday when a high-level government commission gave final approval to the first of five mines, Mina Invierno. Isla Riesco, located in far southern Chile near Punta Arenas, represents a US$530 million investment by the companies Copec and Ultramar to build five mines and a port. The project is expected to extract six million tons of coal each year for between 12 and 25 years. La Araucanía environmental groups announced possible mobilizations for the approval of the mining project in Isla Riesco as happened with the massive marches staged in May against the Hidroaysén project. (The Santiago Times 08/15/11) ( 08/15/11)

Civil society organizations and parliamentarians will interpose invalidation resources and protection against the Environmental Qualification Resolution that authorized last Monday August 1st the project construction of the Chiloé Wind Farm, which consists of 56 towers of 90 mts. height that would be deployed in the coastal area of ​​Mar Brava, Ancud, Chiloé Island.  ( 08/16/11)

Chile is working on the bill that will provide financial compensation to the regions where major projects are implemented, which would include HidroAysén, said Economy Minister Pablo Longueira in Temuco. Longueira added that the regions have to be compensated, adding that it looks for projects that somehow cause negative externalities for a region, but benefit the country, resulting in economic benefit to the area where they are located, which would include Hidroaysén. ( 18/16/11)

The forestry company from Arauco, linked to the Group Angelini, is studying whether to expand its cellulose production capacity in Chile and, contemplating, various investment projects abroad. Against this action, neighbors and victims protested for pollution caused from the plant in Valdivia that killed hundreds of swans in the Cruces River. ( 08/19/11)

Costa Rica

Four months ago the Costa Rican Electric Institute (ICE) was forced to stop work on the construction of the Díquis hydroelectric plant when it was shown that 900 ha the company planned to use were located within indigenous territory.  Now, ICE is offering improved access roads, health, education, telecommunication, energy and water services to the indigenous community of Buenos Aires de Puntarenas in exchange for permission o build the dam their territory.  The indigenous group is open to discussions with ICE and the company plans to consult them in 12 – 18 months on whether they will agree to the project. Meanwhile ICE will move forward with environmental impact studies in areas outside of the indigenous territory.  (La Republica 8/19/2011)

Rene Castro, Costa Rica’s new Minister of Environment and Energy will soon notify Mallon Oil Company about what the 3-year oil exploitation moratorium the country recently decreed means for the Mallon’s pending concession.  Doubts exist about the implications of the moratorium because while it mentions oil exploitation it does not mention exploration. (La Republica 8/19/2011)

Due to the slow pace of a bill that would reform the electric sector, the Chinchilla Administration proposed an electric emergency contingency bill that would increase the amount of private generation. Now this narrower bill is also stuck in the National Assembly with little progress. The goal had been for the contingency bill to be approved by the end of the month, now promoters of the bill are hoping they can finalize the text within the Assembly’s Energy Commission. (El Financiero  8/19/2011)


About 2 000 farm workers of the National Coordinator Plan de Ayala (CNPA) warned that the production of beans and maize in rain fed spring-summer cycle will fall by 50 percent due to climate change and the delay in the delivery resources.(Vanguardia, 08/16/11)

Climate change results in a low population of various species that inhabit different ecosystems, and whose work is vital to humanity. Such is the case of species that are responsible for pollinating the plants and food crops, especially bees and bats. Semarnat, trying to resolve this situation, will be working on a pilot program for organic farming in the periphery of protected natural areas (PNA ), said the head of the agency, Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, and explained that in order to preserve various pollinators species, pre-Hispanic techniques are being applied in coffee and cocoa, as well as honey production. (Ciudadanía Express 08/16/11)

Mexico, the birthplace of cacao, is at risk of running out of this crop. Climate change, disease, neglect, urban growth and expansion of the oil industry are reducing the plantations. (Vanguardia 08/16/11)

About 70 percent of the land has varied erosion rates depending on the area, the deputy representative of the Environmental Protection Management of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), David Rafael Perez revealed in an interview. In this regard, recently the head of operation of the National Commission on Arid Zones (CONAZA), Mario Alfredo Sánchez Santiago reported that each year two inches of soil are lost, alarming situation, because that means that for every acre between 4 and 30 tons of soils are lost. (Ciudadanía Express 08/17/11)


Latin American and Caribbean countries are moving toward phasing out inefficient light bulbs. At a regional meeting for the en.lighten Initiative, delegates from Latin America and the Caribbean adopted the Santo Domingo Declaration which encourages the phase of incandescent lights and a move toward more efficient lighting. During the event the Dominican Republic proposed that Latin America and the Caribbean formalize the Santo Domingo Declaration at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012. (IISD Reporting Services 8/12/2011)

Note: The linked articles and excerpts in this post are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Natural Resources Defense Council.