Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: 9/5 - 9/2011


Lawyers from both HidroAysén and the project’s opponents made their oral arguments in front of the Appeals Court in Puerto Montt on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.  Opponents filed seven injunctions against the approval of HidroAysén’s five proposed dams in Patagonia in June.  On Wednesday afternoon, the Court announced that they will continue to study the arguments and make their decision in the coming weeks, leaving both sides in suspense.  (  9/5/2011, 9/7/2011)  At the same time, HidroAysén’s board agreed to ask its shareholders for an increase in capital for the project at the end of the month.  (Capital  9/8/2011)

Valparaíso has become a pioneer in the field of energy efficiency, having reduced energy consumption by 21 percent through "Proyecto de Modernización de Alumbrado Público." The project combines a massive campaign to upgrade to efficient light sources (14 million upgraded lightbulbs thus far with another 11 million in progress) with an overall make-over of the city’s entire energy system which promises to double its potential efficiency.  Valparaíso will share its success with other Chilean energy leaders at The Efficient Energy Expo this December. (Revista Electricidad Interamericana  9/7/2011)

Renewable energy and energy efficiency expert Veronica Vukasovic Montt says that Chile should look to its Southern Cone neighbors like Peru as it develops its energy sector.  She sites the Atacama Desert, which spans the two countries’ border and is a prime site for solar energy development, as an example of where Chile could collaborate with Peru and develop a more diversified energy portfolio.  (  9/6/2011)

Costa Rica

A delegation from Portugal presented a proposal for expanding electric vehicle use in Costa Rica to a team of government officials and the National Power and Light Company (CNFL).  The initiative would require a supportive legal and policy framework, including incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles.  A representative from Mob.e, the company that manages Portugal’s electric vehicle initiative, also called for active participation of the private sector. (El Financiero 9/9/2011)

Mallon Oil Company presented two legal appeals with the goal of compelling the Costa Rican government to sign a controversial contract for oil exploration and exploitation.  The first appeal claims that President Chinchillla and Energy and Environment Minister René Castro violated the public bidding process with a recently signed moratorium against oil exploration.  The second is against the Technical Environmental Secretary (SETENA) for requesting a new environmental impact statement. (El País 9/8/2011)

Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAET) is drafting a new bill that would reform the existing 69-year old water bill.  An updated water management bill would help ensure Costa Rica’s water resources are used more efficiently and help protect the country’s more than 900 wetlands.  MINAET minister René Castro says the proposed new bill will add a “global vision” to previously proposed versions and outline policies to offset and reduce factors that contribute to climate change. (Tico Times9/9/2011)

The Costa Rican Chamber of Construction (CCC) is proposing that 25% of the financing for the Reventazón hydroelectric plant, approximately $300 million, come from local sources rather than from a Chinese bank.  The financing from the Chinese bank would be contingent on Costa Rica’s Institute of Electricity allowing the participation of the Chinese company Sinohydro in the project’s development. The remaining 75% of the project financing would come from 12 banks from other countries. (La Nación 9/6/2011). Sinohydro is expanding its presence in Latin America and is participating in the 150MW Patuca II plant in Honduras and a 1,500 MW plant in Ecuador. (La Nación 8/31/2011)

Recent data from the World Resources Institute shows that Costa Rica is the world’s largest consumer of pesticides, utilizing 51.2 kg per hectare.  In 2009, Costa Rica imported over 300 TM of pesticides including methyl bromide which can damage the ozone layer. Between 1977 and 2006 pesticide imports have increased by 340%.  In addition to affecting the ozone layer, these pesticides are now also the leading cause of water contamination in Costa Rica and in 2010 resulted in 12 deaths. (El País  05/09/2011)


Hansa Baja Investments does not intend to stop the project Cabo Cortés in Baja California Sur, despite concerns that the project would impact Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park.  It will continue with the studies requested by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) for final approval. “Cabo Cortés is not a slowed or stalled project, we are working to comply with all conditions that the Environment Authority told us,” said Jesus Guilabert Boyer, director of Cabo Cortés. ( 09/05/11)

The Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources approved the concept of the initiative to replace the use of plastic bags with biodegradable materials that business establishments commonly use or give their customers. The document states that collection, transportation or storage of waste through packaging or bags made ​​of plastic, except in situations which by sepsis or hygiene where is not feasible to replace these products, is prohibited at the national level.  (Diario Xalapa 09/04/11)

Mexico’s strategy to become a sustainable country in its electricity production has made no progress in five years through the current administration.  According to the Fifth Government Report, 73.5% of total power generation in Mexico continues on the basis of fossil fuels while in 2007, ending the first cycle of administration of Felipe Calderón, it was 74%, making progress barely 0.5% in 5 years.  (El Universal 09/02/11)

Mexico will have the world's largest solar park in Canatlán in the municipality of Durango, one of the sites with the highest solar radiation for electric generation. To make this project happen, the communal farmers of the village agreed to surrender, at no cost to the Spanish company Siliken, 300 hectares of land for a period of 30 years, sufficient time for the development and operation of the solar plant. (Milenio 09/04/11)

Climate change is playing an important role in encouraging the migration of Mexicans to the U.S., BBVA bank said in a report released on Wednesday in Mexico. "The soil erosion and changes in rainfall patterns have been an additional push factors for emigration," the statement said.  ( 09/07/11)


A recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration finds that Latin America has significant undeveloped shale gas reserves, particularly in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil.  Countries such as Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay also have important reserves, potentially making them new players in the region’s hydrocarbon sector.  Development of shale gas in the region has so far been limited and significant obstacles and challenges remain including the availability of technology and know-how, low natural gas prices, and most importantly concerns about the environmental impact of natural gas fracking, the water-intensive method of extracting shale gas. (Energía a Debate 9/9/2011)

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.