Latin America Energy, Climate and Environment News: Week of 2.28-6.3.2011


Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of granted approval for several key components of the proposed Cabo Cortés resort complex, owned by the Spanish firm Hansa Urbana, in Southern Baja California near the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park. Environmental and local groups are protesting the Ministry’s loose interpretation of the law, as it is the agency responsible for protecting the environment. But the Ministry stated that "the ecological criteria are guidelines for protecting the environment... are not mandatory.” ( 3/3/ 2011)

In order to identify the potential to develop and implement a Strategy for Low Emissions Development in Mexico, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources held a workshop to exchange experiences with the United States for giving effect to the goals established by the Federal Government in the Special Climate Change Program. In different sessions, the two countries discussed issues related to climate change mitigation, private sector, strategy of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD +) and adaptation to climate change impacts. (Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources 3/2/2011)

Although Mexico is among the six countries with the highest global radiation, is within the Sun Belt and has adequate laws for the use of renewable resources, the country is behind with its use of solar energy.  According to the National Association of Solar Energy (ANES), this is due to a misinterpretation of regulations and the reluctance of investors to develop pilot projects using innovative technologies. (El Economista 3/6/2011)

Costa Rica

A pilot project by Costa Rica’s Ministry of Agriculture is promoting carbon neutral farms. The project aims to help small producers adequately manage waste and will use bio-digesters to produce energy from farm biomass. (El Financiero, 3/4/2011)

ARESEP’s plan to change how gasoline rates are calculated gained supported from COPROCOM, a commission that promotes competition. ARESEP, the public services regulator, proposes to set a maximum price for gasoline and allow the market to determine the selling price under this maximum. (Inside Costa Rica, 3/3/2011)

President Laura Chinchilla signed an executive decree creating the Montes Submarinos Marine Management Area near Cocos Island.   Prior to this decree only areas immediately adjacent to Cocos Island were under protection and tuna fleets could fish right outside this protected zone. The creation of the new marine management area creates an additional level of protection for the island’s ecosystems since only controlled, artisanal fishing will be allowed. (La Nación, 3/3/11)

Mitsubishi will begin selling their electric vehicle MiEV in Costa Rica.  Mitsubishi will sell its new electric vehicle primarily to fleet customers including government entities and electric companies. (Costa Rican News 3/1/2011)


According to Wikileaks cables, the US Embassy pressured the previous government to approve AES Gener’s massive coal-fired power plant, Campiche, in 2009. Environmental groups are asking the OECD to suspend both the US and Chile’s membership as a result. (El Mercurio, 3/2/2011;El Mostrador, 3/4/2011)

Two of the leading energy companies in Chile, AES Gener and GDF Suez, announced that together they will build a 570 kilometer-long transmission line to connect the Mejillones liquefied natural gas plant with large mining operations in the north and the northern electric grid.  They are also planning the US $500 million line to eventually include the controversial 2100MW Castilla coal-fired power plant, which recently received its environmental approval despite fierce public opposition. (El Mercurio, 3/4/2011)

Chile’s emergency service activated its emergency plan for potentially affected areas in the Aysén region on Thursday when Lake Cachet 2 began to drain rapidly in a phenomenon known as a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood, or GLOF. This event happens when previously impounded glacial melt-water passes over or through the obstacle blocking it and floods downstream.

As discussions over the price of natural gas in Chile’s southernmost region continue, Minister of Mining and Energy Laurence Golborne invited more members of civil society to join the technical panel in order to increase public approval for the final agreement, which will form the basis of a new law.  (El Mercurio 3/2/2011).

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.