Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: Week of 4.18-4.22.11


With the latest round of HidroAysén’s environmental impact review underway, the proposed large hydroelectric power complex is making headlines.  The Minister of Energy and Mining announced that HidroAysén and Castilla, a massive coal-fired power plant proposal, are necessary in and of themselves for Chile, but that they would contribute a combined “15% of the total energy necessary for the next years.”  He added that “nothing is inevitable, the question is with what they can be replaced.”  (PubliMetro 4/20/2011)  As environmental groups intensify their campaigns against HidroAysén, Robert Kennedy, Jr. sent a letter to President Piñera, asking for the project’s rejection and the protection of Patagonia as one of Chile’s real treasures.  (Santiago Times 4/22/2011; El Mercurio 4/21/2011)

In the next three years, oil exploration in southern Chile will get a financial boost equivalent to US $400 million.  This investment in hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation will make Punta Arenas a center of the region’s oil industry.  (MercoPress 4/20/2011)

Despite the recent controversy surrounding the pollution from Codelco’s industrial park that closed a public school in Las Ventanas, the company will receive 576 acres of additional land from Valparaíso.  Several members of the Region Council oppose the plan for putting residents at “unacceptable risk.”  (Santiago Times 4/20/2011)

Chile's government is working to protect the humpback whales that have returned to southern seas after nearly being hunted to extinction.  The newest threat, according to the Minister of Environment, is coastal shipping, with 200 ships monthly in the waters.  She cited the need for stronger international cooperation to monitor and care for this "natural heritage" (Santiago Times 4/20/2011)

Chile launched the first quick-charging electric car station in Latin America.  The station will allow electric cars to refill their charge up to 80% in a half hour and give them a range of 130 kilometers.  (Fox Business 4/20/2011)

Costa Rica

According to a recent study by the National Learning Institute, fifty-six percent of vehicles in Costa Rica are older than 16 years.  If the use of biofuels expands, owners will need to take precautions to ensure that switching to gasoline with ethanol does not damage their car (La Nacion 4/19/2011).

The Costa Rican NGO Fundacion Keto conducted a study that found that Costa Rican consumption of 27 species of fish  from coral reefs could  lead to imbalances in these ecosystems.  Many of these species are frequently sold as sea bass to consumers who ignore the difference. (La Nacion 4/20/2011)

As part of its effort to finalize an urban zoning plan for San Jose’s Greater Metropolitan Area, the Institute of Housing and Urbanism (INVU) will organize seven forums to evaluate key issues by the end of July.  The first forum looked at the legal framework for urban planning and land zoning.  Subsequent forums will look at transportation, infrastructure, housing and urbanism, social issues, economy, and physical and environmental impact of projects.  (El Financiero  4/14/2011)


Carlos Navarrette, the PRD leader in the Mexican Senate, called for strong public policies against climate change, which he noted has already caused intense rain, forest fires, droughts and other atypical phenomena in the country.  He also highlighted the need for a Green Fund to help developing countries combat climate change. (Notimex 4/21/2011).

The Mexican government will spend 1,200 million pesos to deal with the impact of climate change in Oaxaca.  On April 26, President Calderon and Environmental Minister Elvira will sign an agreement on environmental issues with the Oaxaca governor.  ( 4/20/2011)

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.