Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: 8/7 - 8/12/2011


HidroAysén’s proposed hydroelectric plant in Patagonia continued to make headlines this week.  Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters criticized the project in Patagonia in an interview that also addressed his potential performance in Chile in 2012.  Waters said, “To destroy valleys and rivers in Patagonia, there should be a better solution, if you have sun and wind, my instinct tells me that the protesters are right.”  (El Ciudadano 8/8/2011)  Camila Arancibia, archeologist at the National Monuments Council, formally alleged that the observations her agency made in October 2010 about HidroAysén’s environmental impact assessment for its dam proposal in Patagonia were very different than the version that was formally submitted to the environmental authority.  Ms. Arancibia’s testimony, given at Monday’s session of the commission in the Chamber of Deputies that is investigating irregularities in the environmental review process and approval of HidroAysén’s dam proposal, is the latest in a string of similar allegations made by employees at other state agencies that participated in HidroAysén’s environmental review process. (Radio Bíobío 8/11/2011)  Protesters –including members of Parliament –marched to the presidential palace on Monday to deliver a petition signed by 100,000 Chileans, asking the government to cancel HidroAysén.  (The Santiago Times 8/9/2011)

 After a week of delay, the Commission of Ministers will review injunctions presented against the approval of the Isla Riesco coal mining project on Friday evening.  Organizations campaigning against the project, which would involve five separate coal mines in an environmentally-sensitive area in the southernmost Magallanes Region, are prepared to protest if the vote does not go their way.  (Terram 8/12/2011)

 Enel Green Power, a subsidiary of the Italian-owned energy company Enel, announced that it will invest 400 million euros in a variety of renewable energy projects in Chile over the next five year, including solar, wind, geothermal and small hydro. ( 8/12/2011)

 Costa Rica

 The 1,800 km long SIEPAC transmission line that will interconnect six Central American electric markets is 88% complete and is expected to come on line in mid-2012. All of the countries’ governments have approved a treaty to create one single regional market with a joint regulator to allow power sales from any part in the region. The SIEPAC transmission line is expected to reduce electric generation costs in the region by 20%.  In Costa Rica, completion of a portion of the line is awaiting resolution of environmental issues before the court. (Revista Summa 8/12/2011)  

 A proposed bill that would restructure Costa Rica’s electric market is stalled and it appears it will not be approved during the August extra-ordinary session.  The bill proposed by the Chinchilla Administration would lift the cap on private generation and allow large-scale energy users to purchase power at preferential rates.  The Administration is concerned that Costa Rica may face power shortages in the next few years and is calling for the Assembly to pass a bill.  Currently, installed capacity is 2,400 MW , but the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAET) predicts that Costa Rica could face power shortages by 2013 when demand will be growing by six percent.  (La Nación 8/11/2011)

 The director of Costa Rica’s civil aviation, Jorge Fernandez, defended the plan to build an international airport in the Osa before the Legislative Assembly’s Environmental Commission. Fernandez said the project would meet all environmental requirements bring opportunities for the region.  Critics of the project have expressed concern with the proposed airport’s close proximity to the Terraba-Sierpe Wetlands.  However, their main concern is that the airport would bring uncontrolled real-estate expansion to fragile ecosystem. (El Pais 8/12/2011)


The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) met with municipal authorities in Oaxaca, Queretaro, Chiapas, Veracruz and Baja California Sur to show the benefits of renewable energy and the possibilities to access credit to promote these energies.  Semarnat emphasized that during the sessions, the group discussed the contents of the Program Guide for the Promotion of Renewable Energy for Municipalities of Mexico and how this instrument can be adapted by various sectors. (SDP Noticias 08/09/11)

 The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) will implement, from the Arco Maya to Punta Yuyum, a Permanent Beach Cleaning Program in the Biosphere Reserve Sian Ka'an, in Quintana Roo.  Actions performed by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) with support from the city of Tulum and the civil association Friends of Sian Ka'an, are designed to minimize the impact of pollution on the reservation. (Correo 08/06/11)           

 Congressman Mauricio Prieto Gomez said that "in Mexico, the loss of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can be as high as 7 percent, as a result of climate change and global warming, forcing us to rethink and reconsider our model of development…the increase of temperature in the agricultural sector could mean higher losses for the country."  His comments were based on the results  of the study “The Economics of Climate Change in Mexico 2009”. (Quadratin 08/10/11)

 The organizations ANSE, CEMDA, Ecologistas en Acción and Greenpeace from Spain and Mexico called on the Bank of Spain to investigate the links between Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo (CAM) and the  development company Hansa Urbana, which is involved in various tourism projects of dubious legality and high environmental impact in Spain and Mexico. The company asked for Spanish public funds to clean up the Caja. The expansion of Hansa Urbana in Mexico began in 2005 with the New Cancun project. In 2007 it bought 3,850 acres in Baja California Sur, where it intends to launch the real estate and tourism megaproject called Cabo Cortés located in the area adjacent to the National Marine Park of Cabo Pulmo, a protected area since 1995 which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its incalculable ecological value. (Greenpeace 08/11/11)


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.