Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: Week of 4.11-4.15.11


On Monday, HidroAysén began the fourth and likely final round of the environmental review process for the five dams it is proposing to build in on two rivers in Patagonia.  Public agencies have until April 25th to submit their comments to the regional authority, and the authority will vote on the project in early May.  (El Mercurio 4/12/2011)  Critics of the project say that the company delivered its most recent environmental impact documents in a “clandestine way,” pointing out that the letter from HidroAysén’s President to the authority which initiated this round of the review was dated April 5th.  However, the documents were not available to the public until April 11th.  (El Mercurio 4/11/2011)   

New poll numbers show that popular support for HidroAysén is at an all-time low.  In the latest Ipsos poll, 29.1% of people said they were for large hydroelectric projects in Patagonia, and 61.1% were against.  The poll also showed that 84.1% of Chileans are against developing nuclear energy.  (La cooperative 4/13/2011)

President Piñera visited the Patagonia city of Cochrane early this week, and he announced a new $3 billion development plan for the region of Aysén, which will focus on infrastructure, environment and health, employment, poverty and quality of life.  (La Segunda 4/11/2011)

Chile’s Minister of Mining and Energy announced new research into the viability of a solar power pilot project with the financial support of the mining companies.  (Diario Financiero 13/4/2011)

Schwager Energy launched an unprecedented project this week, using waste from dairy farms to generate energy.  The vice president of the company, Andrés Rojas, said that biogas has the potential to be an important source of renewable energy in Chile during times when prices are high and water (for the country’s hydropower plants) is scarce.  (El Mercurio 4/14/2011)

Costa Rica

A proposed bill that seeks to promote the use of clean vehicles is moving forward in Costa Rica’s National Assembly.  The bill would reduce vehicle property taxes by 20% during five years and exempt clean vehicles from vehicular restrictions in San Jose. (La Nación 4/13/2011)

In response to high fuel costs the Costa Rican government and its various ministries are implementing various fuel saving mechanisms. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) has implemented vehicular restrictions in San Jose during peak hours, although car-pooling vehicles with three or more passengers will be exempt from the restrictions. (La Nación 4/13/2011)  MOPT will also manage street lights to cut down travel time through San José and maintain a bus only lane on certain streets. (El Financiero 4/13/2011) The government also hopes to expand tele-commuting as a fuel savings measure. (El Financiero 4/12/2011)

According to the founder of the, Comisión Latinoamerica de Impresarios de Combustible, Héctor Parrella, the most advanced biofuels are still far from competing with traditional transportation fuels.  Parrella pointed to concerns with biofuel production competing with food production and potential damage to motors.  In Costa Rica, despite the government’s plan to expand its biofuels pilot project, local gas station owners feel there is inadequate infrastructure in service stations to sell biofuels and insufficient ethanol to meet demand supply. (El Financiero 4/12/2011)

Over 30 artisanal fishermen will participate in a project to identify and develop responsible fishing and other sustainable economic alternatives in Puntarenas.  The project, which will be run by MarViva, will receive financing from the InterAmerican Develoment Bank. (El Financiero 4/12/2011)


The Environment Secretary, Victor Alvarado Martinez, met with Edgar Villaseñor Franco, executive director of Mexico ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, seeking to establish partnerships with international NGOs regarding sustainable development and climate change.
ICLEI is the voice of local governments in national and international sustainable development issues, and its mission is to build and support a global movement to achieve improvements in environmental conditions and development. He explained that Veracruz is the first to have a climate action plan in the country, which can serve as a model for other states to develop programs. He added that this strategy is supported by the Government of Great Britain.  (Hoy Veracruz. 4/10/2011)

Petróleos Mexicanos is delaying the entry of new automotive technology into the market, said Rodolfo Lacy, project coordinator of the Mario Molina Center, by not complying with the rule to introduce Ultra Low Sulfur fuel (UBA) since January 2009 in Mexico. If UBA fuel is not introduced, he added, by 2020 Country vehicle emissions may increase 46 percent in hydrocarbons, 63 percent in nitrogen oxides and 31 percent in carbon monoxide. ( 4/13/2011)

The development of a biorefinery that could transform Mexico’s organic waste into hydrogen, natural gas or useful substrates for industry could help Mexico become self-sustaining and less dependent on oil.  The project involves scientists from the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV). A researcher noted that 102,000 tons of garbage are produced daily in Mexico, or almost one kilogram per inhabitant.  Of this amount, over 60% is organic waste.  Transformed into energy, it could generate large amounts of electricity, natural gas and substrates useful for industry. The Cinvestav researcher added that if all organic waste generated  daily from the Valley of Mexico was transformed into energy, it could maintain 900 000 energy saving bulbs of 25 watts. (NSS Oaxaca 4/12/2011)

Juan Suárez Sánchez, a researcher at the Autonomous University of Tlaxcala, warned of about a 6 percent decrease in rainfall in Mexico due to the global climate change effect (GCC). It is estimated that global precipitation patterns will be altered on regional scales in this century, and that change will undermine the renewal of groundwater.  This impact on aquifers will affect surface water sources and ecosystems. ( 4/8/2011)

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.