Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: Week of 5.9-5.13.11


On Monday, HidroAysén’s hydroelectric proposal in Patagonia was approved after a nearly three year review process.  Immediately following the decision, protests broke out throughout the country, and polices responses have been called harsh and unnecessary, particularly in Santiago where dozens were arrested on Monday and again on Friday amidst water and tear gas.  Protests also broke out internationally, in the US, Italy (home of one of HidroAysén’s major parent companies, ENEL).  President Piñera supported the approval of HidroAysén, maintaining his position that the project is necessary for the country’s future energy demand. (AP 5/9/2011; Bloomberg News 5/9/2011; CNN Chile 5/14/2011; MercoPress 5/13/2011; Santiago Times 5/13/2011; La Nación 5/11/2011; CNN Chile 5/10/2011; Tele 13 5/11/2011)

A proposed law is currently before Congress which would fast track the approval of transmission lines.  The CEO of HidroAysén, Daniel Fernández, stated that with the dams’ approval secured, he expects the approval for HidroAysén’s 1100 mile-long transmission line to be much faster. The company will reveal its plan for the transmission line in July, and submit it for evaluation in December. (Electricidad Interamericana, 5/13/2011 and 5/11/2011)

In order to maintain its status as a UNESCO protected biosphere reserve, Chile’s Torres Del Paine National Park must increase in size to more than double its current area.  (Santiago Times 5/10/2011)

Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) will begin to include environmental and social considerations in its projects and management. As part of a $850 financing package from the Inter-American Development Bank, MOPT must create an Environmental and Social Unit that guarantees these issues are addressed. (El Financiero 5/11/2011)

Costa Rica’s executive branch has sent a second proposed energy bill that would create incentives for new renewable energy power plants.  A previous bill sent last year has been moving very slowly through committee. The proposed bill would authorize private generation to produce 25% of energy, up from the current 15%.  In addition the bill would increase the maximum size of private renewable energy projects form 20 MW to 30MW. (El Financiero 5/10/2011)


Mexican representatives from environmental organizations will visit Spain between May 16th and 21st to denounce the huge tourism project called Cabo Cortés, which Spanish developer Hansa Urbana plans to build in Baja California, Mexico. The project will be built in an area bordering the Cabo Pulmo National Park, one of the best preserved ecosystems in the Gulf of California. ( 5/13/2011)

The Organization of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) asked the Mexican government about possible impacts on the Cabo Pulmo coral reef, listed as World Heritage Site, which is threatened by mega tourism projects that seek to operate in the area. Kishore Rao, director of the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO, asked Carlos de Icaza, Mexico's ambassador to France and permanent representative at UNESCO, to submit information with details on the possible effects that both developments could cause in Cabo Pulmo. (El Universal 5/5/2011)

Sixteen new wind projects are proposed for Mexico that would significantly boost the country’s wind power generation. However, legal constraints and lack of interest from governors and legislators to adapt local laws and regulations to promote investments could truncate progress.  Nine are planned for Oaxaca, five for Baja California and two in Jalisco. All of these energy projects together, planned for operation by 2015, would increase the current capacity of wind generation by more than ten times. (REVE 5/13/2011)

The Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, participated in the plenary of the high-level segment of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), which was held at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. The federal official highlighted the need for multilateral forums dedicated to sustainable development, and particularly this Committee, to be conducted under processes more efficient, dynamic and creative, In order to bring solutions and useful suggestions to the environment and population. (Semarnat press release 5/11/2011)

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.