Press Release

Chile to Deliver Final Ruling on Patagonia Dam Project, HidroAysén

Carolina Herrera, +1 202-289-2381

On June 10, Chile’s highest administrative authority is expected to deliver a final ruling on the future of the mega-dam project, HidroAysén – a project that would have irreversible impacts on Patagonia’s communities and wilderness. The fight over HidroAysén has grown into the largest environmental battle in Chile’s history and the dams are at the center of the public debate about the country’s energy future.

If the government does not uphold the dams’ environmental permit, HidroAysén will effectively be cancelled.

HidroAysén first proposed its plans to build five large dams on the Pascua and Baker Rivers in Chilean Patagonia in 2008. Although the US$10 billion, 2.75 GW project received its environmental permit in May 2011, it has been stalled since then due to 35 outstanding appeals.

While the administration of former President Piñera repeatedly delayed taking a position on those appeals, the new Committee of Ministers under President Bachelet announced on March 19 – just eight days after taking office – that it would make a definitive ruling on the project’s permit.

Bachelet also released a new Energy Agenda on May 15 that favors natural gas, energy efficiency and renewables, such as solar PV, rather than continuing Chile’s traditional reliance on conventional energy.

As international and national media prepare to cover the announcement, experts from the Patagonia Defense Council [Consejo de Defensa de la Patagonia (CDP)], Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and International Rivers are available for comment in English or Spanish.

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