Cablegate: South America Esth News, Number 114

DE RUEHBR #1465/01 3121805
R 071805Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. The following is part of a series of newsletters, published by
the Brasilia Regional Environmental Hub, covering environment,
science and technology, and health news in South America. The
information below was gathered from news sources from across the
region, and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of
the Hub office or our constituent posts. Addressees who would like
to receive a user-friendly email version of this newsletter should
contact Larissa Stoner at NOTE: THE NEWSLETTER

2. Table of Contents

--(3)Colombian Palm Sector en route to Certification
--(4)Round Table on Responsible Soy Works on Global Outreach
Program; U.S. a Target
--(5)Aquaculture, Agro-Energy in Guyana, Brazil Talks
--(6)Uruguay Moving Forward With GMOs

--(7)Wal-Mart Mulling Contribution to Brazil's Amazon Rainforest
--(8)U.S. Cuts Peru's Debt Payments by US$25 Million In Exchange For
Protecting Tropical Forest
--(9)Global Financial Crisis may help Amazon, says Brazilian
Minister Minc
--(10)Brazil: EU donates US$8mn for Amazon Sustainable Development
--(11)Forest Conservation Looms Large In Climate Debate, Bolivia
Experience an Example

--(12)New Conservation Opportunities for Threatened Bolivian Birds
--(13)Brazil Leads Efforts to Halt Species Extinctions

Fishing & Marine Conservation
--(14)Chile Enacts Law to Ban Cetacean Hunting In Chilean Coastal

Protected Areas
--(15)Chile Inaugurates New Siete Tazas National Park
--(16)Chile's Protected Sites Fail to Protect 73 Percent of
Vertebrate Species

--(17)Pollution Kills More than AIDS and Traffic Accidents Combined
in Sao Paulo

Climate Change
--(18)Brazil Tests Carbon Reduction in Amazon Forest
--(19)Southern Chile Glacial Lake Disappears, Again
--(20)Peru Studies Climate Riddle as the World Heats Up

--(21)Plan for Dams in Puyehue National Park outrages
--(22)Giving priority to Thermo Plants "Myopic", says Brazil Energy
--(23)Wind Farms Could Completely Power Chile's Chiloe
--(24)Brazil to Unveil Auto Fuel-Efficiency Stickers

Extractive Industries

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--(25)Report Says Los Pelambres Mine Threatens Chile's Glaciers
--(26)Chile Forestry Officials Halt Mining to Protect Flamingos
--(27)Argentina: La Rioja Does U-Turn on Open-Pit Mine Ban

Infrastructure Development
--(28)Environmental Impact Statement Filed For Five-Dam Hydro
Project in Chile
--(29)Finance Institutions, Corporations, and Conservationists
Debate IIRSA


3. Colombian Palm Sector en route to Certification

OCT. 21, 2008 - On July 7, The National Federation of Palm Oil
Growers (Fedepalma) launched a program to develop the National
Interpretation of the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable for
Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Colombia. The process involves
adapting the generic RSPO principles and criteria to the Colombia
national context. These indicators will serve as a basis for the
certification of sustainable palm oil in Colombia by the RSPO. The
process will be led by Fedepalma and has the backing of the
Ministries of the Environment, Housing, and Territorial Development
and of Agriculture and Rural Development. Cenipalma (the Center for
Research on Palm Oil), the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for
Research on Biological Resources (IavH) and WWF Colombia will
provide technical support to the process. The first results of this
process were presented at the first Latin American meeting of the
RSPO, which took place in Cartagena on October 16-17.

Source - WWF Forest Conversion News

4. Round Table on Responsible Soy Works on Global Outreach Program;
US a Target

OCT. 2008 - In August, the third meeting of the Round Table on
Responsible Soy (RTRS) Development Group (DG) took place in Puerto
Iguazu, Argentina. Hundreds of stakeholder comments about the
content of the principles and the ways of verifying them were
discussed. Important steps were taken in further developing the
concept of responsible soy. It is now highly probable that the DG
will be able to deliver the final version of the Principles and
Criteria for responsible soy production (P&C) in May 2009 when it
will be presented for approval at the RTRS General Assembly. A
follow-up to the August meeting took place in Sco Paulo from October
10-13. Now, the document will be sent out for the second formal
round of public consultation, which will last until the beginning of
2009 when the DG will meet again to prepare the final version. The
RTRS is launching its Global Outreach Program, which aims to
encourage soy producers, traders and processors to actively
contribute to the development and adoption of the P&C. This program
will play a crucial role in addressing the challenge of involving
additional target groups and countries - mainly China, the USA and
India - thereby creating a true global engagement.

NOTE: Member countries of the RTRS include Brazil, Paraguay, and

Source - WWF Forest Conversion News

5. Aquaculture, Agro-Energy in Guyana, Brazil Talks

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SEPT. 24, 2008 - A high-level team of Brazilian technical officials
met with senior representatives of Guyana's agricultural sector
including Minister Robert Persaud to discuss areas of cooperation
between the two states for greater agricultural development. Guyana
has expressed interest in areas of forestry, fisheries, agro-energy
and other non- traditional sectors. Minister Persaud noted Guyana's
vast potential for agro-energy, adding that several proposals for
investment in this area have been received from the Brazilian
private sector. He however, cautioned the biofuel will be derived
from sugar cane, and not corn, and that no land will be deforested
to make way for the new plantations. Additionally, initial
discussions were held to provide support in the management of
Guyana's forestry resources via satellite technology. Guyana also
requested greater bilateral cooperation and investment to further
develop its aquaculture industry.

Source - Stabroek News

6. Uruguay Moving Forward With GMOs

SEPT. 17, 2008 - During a July press conference, Uruguay's Minister
of Agriculture Ernesto Agazzi announced that the Government was
repealing a moratorium that had been imposed on the approval of new
GM varieties in January 2007. He said that Uruguay would instead
adopt a policy of regulated coexistence of traditional, organic, and
GM crops. The GOU also decided that the labeling of GM products
would not be mandatory, given the high complexity and cost involved
in the process. Uruguay has nearly 550,000 hectares planted with
GMOs, and the GOU moratorium was enacted to enable the government to
assess their impact.

Source - MONTEVIDEO 00000528


7. Wal-Mart Mulling Contribution to Brazil's Amazon Rainforest Fund

OCT. 26, 2008 - Wal-Mart may contribute to Brazil's national fund
for conserving the Amazon rainforest, said Brazilian Environment
Minister Carlos Minc. Speaking to the press following the first
meeting of the Amazon Fund's Guiding Committee, Minc said that
Wal-Mart, Petrobras, and the American energy company AES have
expressed interest in contributing to Brazil's newly established
national fund for promoting conservation and sustainable development
of the Amazon rainforest. The fund seeks to raise up to US$21
billion to protect and sustainably use the Amazon for perpetuity.
Norway earlier pledged up US$ 1 billion through 2021 to the fund.
Some have complained that the Brazilian government has yet to detail
either its plans to reduce deforestation or its plan on how much of
the Amazon it seeks to protect.

Source - Mongabay

8. U.S. Cuts Peru's Debt Payments by US$25 Million In Exchange For
Protecting Tropical Forest

OCT. 21, 2008 - United States and Peru agreed to reduce Peru's
debt payments in exchange for protecting the country's tropical
forest. Under the agreement more than 25 million dollars will be
put towards conserving rain forest, announced Tuesday the US

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Department of State. This act complements an existing Tropical
Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) debt-for-nature program signed with
Peru in 2002, a 1997 debt swap under the Enterprise for the Americas
Initiative and the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement
(TPA) signed last year which includes a number of forest protection
provisions. With this agreement, the U.S. Department of State
reports that Peru will be the largest beneficiary under the U.S.
Tropical Forest Conservation Act, with more than 35 million dollars
generated for conservation.

Source - Andina

NOTE from Embassy Lima - Embassy ESTH Office organized a successful
announcement ceremony with Ambassador and Foreign, Environment &
Economy/Finance Ministers.

9. Global financial crisis may help Amazon, says Brazilian Minister

OCT. 07, 2008 - A global economic slowdown could help reduce
destruction of the Amazon rain forest due to lower world commodity
prices, opined Brazil's environment minister Carlos Minc. Moreover,
Minc is quoted as saying that Brazil should set targets to limit
deforestation. Speaking at the Reuters Global Environment Summit in
Brasilia, Minc suggested that suspicions about foreign
nongovernmental groups, or NGOs, operating in the Amazon were
exaggerated. Some nationalists in Congress, the military, and
government say that the growing presence of foreigners in the Amazon
is undermining Brazil's sovereignty and fueling deforestation. "I
think these accusations are being exaggerated. There are a few
companies and NGOs linked to biopiracy. But they are the
overwhelming minority," Minc said, referring to groups who allegedly
smuggle plants to pharmaceutical laboratories abroad for commercial
development. "Today the Amazon unfortunately is destroyed mostly by
Brazilians," said Minc. Since taking office as minister in May, the
founder of the Green Party in Brazil cracked down on illegal cattle
ranchers and soy farmers, and is promoting forestry management to
help conserve the world's largest rain forest. The fall in
commodity prices resulting from a global economic slowdown will
likely reinforce the government's own efforts in curbing
deforestation, said Minc.

Source - Reuters News

10. Brazil: EU donates US$8mn for an Amazon Sustainable Development

OCT. 02, 2008 - Brazil's environment minister Carlos Minc signed a
technical cooperation agreement with the EU and the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization to support a sustainable development
program in the Amazon, government news agency Radiobras reported.
The EU will provide 5.8 million Euros (US$8mn) in financing for the
project. The program aims to promote productive alternatives to
help stop deforestation around the BR-163, a 1,000km stretch that
connects the cities of Cuiaba, in Mato Grosso state, and Santarem,
in Para. "This is a way to guarantee the survival of the population.
We have 24mn people living in the Amazon and they should live with
dignity. With technical and financial support, we can find a way for
them to live with dignity," Minc was quoted as saying. The BR-163
is currently being paved and is one of the government's projects to
promote sustainable development in the area.

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Source - Business News Americas

11. Forest Conservation Looms Large In Climate Debate, Bolivia
Experience an Example

SEPT. 2008 - In 1997, two environmental groups and three energy
companies teamed up to save parkland forests in Bolivia as a way to
capture carbon and contribute to the fight against global warming.
The deal, conceived by the Bolivian government, the U.S.-based
Nature Conservancy and Bolivia's Friends of Nature Foundation (FAN),
doubled the size of Noel Kempff Mercado National Park to 3.7 million
acres (1.5 million ha) and involved investment of US$10.5 million.
Some of the funds were used to pay timber companies to stop logging
in the area, which cut carbon emissions. And some became seed money
for ecotourism and agroforestry projects aimed at curbing forest
clearing. Today, the highly prized park sustains some of the
richest ecosystems in the world and serves, many experts say, as a
prime example of how to harness the power of carbon trading for the
benefit of forests and forest communities. Debate about such
efforts has moved to front and center as countries work on a
so-called "road map" for a new climate-change agreement to supersede
the 1997 Kyoto Protocol in 2013. Among the questions at issue is
whether the new agreement should include a policy mechanism for
combating climate change, known as Reducing Emissions from
Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). The work at Noel
Kempff offers a useful guide. "Noel Kempff is the only REDD project
I know of that has been implemented and independently verified using
the same standards as those developed under the Clean Development
Mechanism," says Zok Kant, carbon finance manager for The Nature
Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia. "That makes it unique, and it's
taught us many lessons relevant to REDD discussions today."

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete


12. New Conservation Opportunities for Threatened Bolivian Birds

OCT. 10, 2008 - A team of biologists has made important new
discoveries of populations of two bird species in the cordillera of
Apolobamba in Bolivia. The critically endangered Royal Cinclodes
bird was previously known primarily from highly fragmented Polylepis
forests in the Andes of southeastern Peru, with an estimated
remaining global population of just 50-250 individuals. The first
sighting dates back to 1876, with more than a century passing before
the second record in 1997. A few additional records came in 2002, at
Cotapata National Park. The endangered Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant,
meanwhile, was virtually unknown in Bolivia, with only three
previous records from the Cordillera de La Paz. With support of the
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the American Bird Conservancy was
able to fund a new study of the Polylepis forests in the northern
Titicaca Lake basin, and the Cordilleras of La Paz and Apolobamba.
Their research uncovered a total of 33 forest patches (an increase
of 29), eight of which have since been identified as supporting
Royal Cinclodes populations (compared to only one previously known).
The team has also verified the presence of Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrants
at 28 sites in 15 forests, containing up to 300 individuals or
nearly one-third of the global population. New funding from the
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation aimed at sustaining biodiversity

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in key protected areas of the Andes-Amazon region will help begin
implementation of conservation measures in the region.

Source - American Bird Conservancy

13. Brazil Leads Efforts to Halt Species Extinctions

OCT. 08, 2008 - The Brazilian Environment Ministry has launched a
program aimed at identifying and protecting Alliance for Zero
Extinction (AZE) sites within its national borders. The program
will be conducted in partnership with the Brazilian conservation
organization Fundacao Biodiversitas, also an American Bird
Conservancy partner. Projects in Brazil already underway include
the conservation of the Lear's Macaw and Stresemann's Bristlefront,
as well as habitat protection for the Crowned Eagle, Brown-backed
Parrotlet, and many other vulnerable species endemic to Brazil.

Source - American Bird Conservancy

Fishing & Marine Conservation

14. Chile Enacts Law to Ban Cetacean Hunting In Chilean Coastal

OCT. 15, 2008 - Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a law
which prohibits the hunting of cetaceans (whales) within its
jurisdictional waters. The new law calls the cetacean hunting a
crime and the public are prohibited from killing, capturing,
transporting, trading, storing or processing cetaceans, alive or
dead. The law protects the key living spaces for these mammals and
promotes the creation of the protected coast marine areas, parks or
reserved areas. It also regulates actions in protection, rescue,
rehabilitation, observation and monitoring of mammals, reptiles and
hydrobiology birds. This law, which benefits 43 cetacean species in
the Chilean waters, is an acquired compromise of Bachelet.
Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama also have banned
cetacean hunting.

Source - Xinhua News Agency

Protected Areas

15. Chile Inaugurates New Siete Tazas National Park

OCT. 16, 2008 - Chile's President Michelle Bachelet inaugurated the
new Siete Tazas National Park, the first park of its kind in south
central Chile's Maule Region. Bachelet used the occasion to
announce the creation of six additional protected areas that will
take effect next year. These projects include national parks Salar
de Huasco (Region I), Morro Moreno (Region II) and Alerce Costero
(Region XIV), natural reserves Altos del Loa (Region II) and Laguna
Cahuill (Region VI), and natural monument Quebrada Cardones (Region
XV). Agricultural Minister Marigen Hornkohl emphasized that the
inauguration of Siete Tazas National Park was the cumulative
expression of efforts made by Chile's democratic government since
1990 to preserve and develop natural areas. The aim is to boost
Chile's agricultural, forest and tourism activities.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)

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16. Chile's Protected Sites Fail to Protect 73 Percent of Vertebrate

SEPT. 23, 2008 - A recent study by the Universidad Catolica's Center
of Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity (CASEB) revealed
that Chile's protected nature areas are failing to fully protect 73
percent of Chile's 653 vertebrate species. Further, at least 13
percent of Chile's vertebrate species are not covered by any
protected territory. Out of Chile's 46 threatened and endemic
vertebrates - which include the Darwin frog, the Matuasto lizard and
the long-tail snake from the north - only nine are fully protected,
whereas four have no protection and 33 only have partial protection.
Researchers who compiled the study hope it will help redefine the
protection zones, and they insist that the participation of private
property owners is key to species conservation. Now, the
investigators are focused on analyzing how the system should develop
over the next 100 years in the face of climate change, thereby
enabling them to design a system that not only protects all the
species, but also resists the disturbances that are to come.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)


17. Pollution Kills More than AIDS and Traffic Accidents Combined in
Sao Paulo

OCT. 14, 2008 - According to Paulo Saldiva, from the University of
Sao Paulo's Atmospheric Pollution Lab, 150 deaths can be avoided per
year by simply reducing the amount of sulfur in the diesel used by
vehicles. Studies carried out by the lab point out that diseases
caused by pollution such as respiratory problems and heart-attacks,
cause nine deaths per day in the city. This represents nearly 3,500
deaths per year. Deaths caused by AIDS and traffic accidents
combined totaled 1,624 last year. According to the lab, the
metropolitan area of Sao Paulo spends nearly US$1.5 billion per year
to treat diseases caused by air pollution.

Source - Folha de Sao Paulo

Climate Change


18. Brazil Tests Carbon Reduction in Amazon Forest

OCT. 17, 2008 - In the Juma forest reserve deep in Brazil's Amazon,
conservationists will receive money from a Brazilian bank and a
global hotel chain to protect trees and combat global warming. The
project is seen as a test case watched by other potential donors,
mostly in rich countries, who want to help preserve tropical forests
as a way to reduce their carbon footprints but have doubts about
accountability and measuring success. The Washington, D.C.,
area-based Marriott hotel chain agreed to donate $2 million over
four years to the State of Amazonas' Foundation for a Sustainable
Amazon, which runs the project. The money is donated to compensate
for the carbon emissions of its guests worldwide and will help the
foundation protect 34 forest reserves in the Amazon totaling 41
million acres (16.4 million hectares), which it already manages.

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Hotel guests will also be asked to donate $1 to the project, the
foundation said. Brazil's Bradesco bank and the Amazonas state
government each donated 20 million Reais ($9.4 million) to the
foundation, which was created in December.

Source -

19. Southern Chile Glacial Lake Disappears, Again

OCT.12, 2008 - The Cachet 2 glacial lake, located in the southern
Chilean region of Aysn (Region XI), disappeared last week for the
second time in six months. The lake spilled into the nearby Baker
River, possibly due to a phenomenon some say is related to global
warming. Chile's General Water Office (DGA) measured a 4.7-meter
rise in the water level of the Baker River. The change, which
occurred over the course of 20 hours, indicated that the volume of
the river's flow had risen from its normal 573 cubic meters of water
per second to 3007 cubic meters per second. The emptying of the
lake caused flooding along a nearby road, prompting officials to
dispatch a boat to rescue people and animals where necessary. This
is the second time that Cachet 2 has drained this year. In April,
the lake completely vanished in a matter of 12 hours, causing
flooding in nearby towns and farming communities. Experts attributed
the April event to Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF), a phenomenon
caused by a sudden increase in a lake's volume. The volume increase
can be due to one of a number of causes, including a volcanic
eruption or part of a glacier falling into the lake. Although
experts say GLOF can be a naturally occurring phenomenon, some point
to global warming as a factor which is increasing the rate of
glacial melt and break-up.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)
20. Peru Studies Climate Riddle as the World Heats Up

OCT. 06, 2008 - Scientists are using everything from a yellow
submarine to weather balloons and special airplanes to solve a
climate conundrum: why is the ocean off the coast of Peru getting
colder while the rest of the world heats up? Researchers from
Europe, the United States and South America started collecting reams
of data this week from clouds, the shoreline and deep underwater to
try to figure out the dynamics of the southeastern Pacific Ocean.
The area, home to a fifth of the world's fish stocks, plays a
crucial part in global weather patterns and scientists want to
discover why temperatures have dropped in the Peruvian oceans along
the desert coast. "Peru has a very important role in global
climate," said Alexis Chaigneau, a French scientist leading
experiments in Peru. "Over the past 50 years, the ocean off of the
Peruvian coast has gotten colder, mainly because of stronger winds
that have pulled up the deep cold waters of the ocean current." For
the next three months, everything from a small satellite-controlled
submarine to cloud-hugging airplanes will feed computers with
information on oxygen levels in the water, temperature, salinity,
wind speeds and current.

Source - Reuters


21. Plan for Dams in Puyehue National Park outrages

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OCT. 06, 2008 - Chile's leading environmental groups are up in arms
over Hidroaustral's (energy company) plans to build run-of-the-river
hydroelectric dams in Region X's Puyehue National Park. National
parks, under Chilean law, are normally protected from development of
this kind. Region X court is currently reviewing the legality of
the Hidroaustral's controversial "Palmar-Correntoso" hydroelectric
project, which was approved earlier this year for construction by
regional environmental authorities. Region X COREMA's decision to
approve the US$20 million Palmar-Correntoso dams outraged
environmentalists and some members of Congress. The problem isn't so
much the project itself, which is by all accounts "environmentally
friendly," but rather its location - smack dab inside Chile's most
visited national park. Under both national and international law,
critics point out, national parks are supposed to be off limits to
such commercial activity. In 1967, for example, Chile ratified the
Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the
Western Hemisphere. Originally drafted in 1940 in Washington D.C.,
the convention prohibits all types of commercial exploitation of
resources located within protected areas.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)

22. Giving priority to Thermo Plants "Myopic", says Brazil Energy

OCT. 02, 2008 - Brazil's power regulator Aneel has criticized the
increased participation of fuel oil-fired thermo plants in recent
energy auctions and defended hydroelectric plants as a cleaner
energy source. In a September 30 power auction for delivery in
2013, a total of 23 thermo plants sold energy and only one hydro
project took part due to a number of environmental restrictions.
"Developed countries have already explored around 70% of their hydro
potential, while Brazil has explored less than 30% and is creating
barriers," Aneel general director Jerson Kelman said on the
sidelines of an energy conference in Rio de Janeiro. "Brazil has
once again chosen to produce energy by burning oil instead of using
water, a renewable fuel. If a Martian came to Brazil, he would have
a hard time understanding this option," Kelman joked. "To give
priority to thermo plants is myopic because these plants result in
neither financial nor environmental gain." Wind power is still very
expensive and not competitive enough for it to have a significant
share in the energy matrix, he argued. "Those who talk about wind
or solar power don't take into account the price impact of these
sources on the consumer," Kelman added. "From a technological point
of view, it's possible, but economically it would be like doubling
energy prices," he said. "I'm in favor of wind power for the future,
maybe in 10 years."

Source - Business News Americas

23. Wind Farms Could Completely Power Chile's Chiloe

OCT. 01, 2008 - An ambitious windfarm project set for the southern
island of Chilo could - by as early as 2010 - make the island the
first place in Chile fully powered by renewable energy. And, if
things go according to plan, Chiloe might even be able to export
electricity to the mainland. The project is slated for Mar Brava
and Guapilacuy, rural areas located northwest of Ancud, Chiloe's
capital city. The wind farms would occupy some 1,400 hectares and
together boast an installed generating capacity of roughly 140
megawatts (MW) - enough energy to power approximately 700,000 homes.
Chiloe's total current energy needs are estimated at 90 MW. Chiloe
is attached to Chile's central energy grid, known as the SIC, via

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power lines that run over the Chacao Channel. Right now, much of
its electricity is derived from fossil fuel burning plants located
mostly on the mainland. The companies behind the project - Ecopower,
a Chilean firm, and Spanish-owned Enhol-Chile - expect to spend
approximately US$300 million.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)

24. Brazil to Unveil Auto Fuel-Efficiency Stickers

SEPT. 2008 - Brazil's state-run standardization institute is
preparing to present a fuel-efficiency sticker for the nation's 17
car makers and 10 car importers to post voluntarily on new vehicles,
starting with 2009 models. The sticker, a prototype of which was
displayed at Brazil's national auto show in Sao Paulo from Oct. 30
to Nov. 9, is the work of the National Institute of Metrology,
Standardization and Industrial Quality. The institute, called
Inmetro, provides measurement standards and energy ratings for
manufactured products. Inmetro spent the last two years working
with Brazilian car makers and importers to devise the sticker, which
is to be placed on the driver's side window. The institute
traditionally has not required the posting of energy ratings for
manufactured products, and it is not doing so in the case of the
automobile initiative. That's because mandatory ratings would
require a longer bureaucratic process, says Alexandre Novgorodcev,
director of Inmetro's fuel-efficiency-rating program. A voluntary
program, he says, is quicker to start and will likely find broad
acceptance among car sellers in any event.

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete

Extractive Industries

25. Report Says Los Pelambres Mine Threatens Chile's Glaciers

OCT. 17, 2008 - A recent academic study accused Los Pelambres mine
(MLP) of concealing important information about its knowledge of
rocky glaciers near the mine and the damage the mining development
has caused to the glaciers. MLP is located near Coquimbo in northern
Chile and is owned by Chile's powerful Luksic family. The
University of Waterloo study reported that MLP development between
2000 and 2006 severely impacted 2.84 million square meters of
permanent reservoirs of water. The mine's intervention in the
underground water supplies was "not announced in any of the
environmental studies presented to authorities between 1998 and
2004," said the report. Canadian geographer Alexander Brenning and
Chilean Guillermo Azocar headed the study and both highlighted that
a mine's "intervention in a high solar radiation zone with scarce
rain makes no sense because water is so much more valuable in these

Source - Santiago Times (no link)

26. Chile Forestry Officials Halt Mining to Protect Flamingos

OCT. 15, 2008 - Chile's National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) asked
a court to halt mining company Quiborax's operations in northern
Chile's Sarire salt flat, a protected area considered a natural
monument. CONAF - the government agency that administers the
country's national parks - claims the company is breaking the law by

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working too close to the nesting sites of the flamingos that inhabit
the area. CONAF also requested that the court require the National
Environmental Commission (CONAMA) to weigh in and demand an
environmental impact study from the company. Quiborax mines
ulexite, a mineral which is converted into boric acid and
agrochemical products. A 1978 presidential decree granted the
company permission to work in the protected salt flat. While the
decree requires the company to take measures to protect local flora
and fauna, it does not establish specific guidelines. A 1989 decree,
however, is more precise, prohibiting mining activities within 3,000
meters of nesting sites.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)

27. Argentina: La Rioja Does U-Turn on Open-Pit Mine Ban

SEPT. 2008 - Little more than a year after passing a prohibition on
open-pit mining involving such toxic substances as cyanide or
mercury, the legislature of Argentina's La Rioja province has
reversed course and repealed the measure. The original ban was
championed by the province's then vice-governor, Luis Beder Herrera,
and it played a role in the impeachment and removal from office of
the governor at the time, Angel Maza. Maza was criticized for
allowing Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold to gain exploration
rights to a gold mine abandoned in the 1920s on Famatina Mountain.
"The real treasure of Famatina Mountain is the water," Beder Herrera
declared in August of last year. "We are against them polluting our
land and water." After passage of the open-pit mining ban, Beder
Herrera became governor-first on a provisional basis, then in an
Aug. 2007 election. And last month he presided over a 180-degree
turn, executed by governing-party lawmakers in the provincial
legislature. "The government is interested in promoting mining
because it understands that if there is no mining investment in the
province, we're going to postpone development of this province for
generations," Mario Guzman Soria, the governing bloc's president,
told lawmakers before the Aug. 7 repeal. He also remarked it isn't
true that "all mining signifies death and pollution." Several days
later, green groups in Famatina and Chilecito accused the governing
party of "treason," declared Beder Herrera persona non grata and
vowed to continue their fight.

Source - EcoAmericas

Infrastructure Development

28. Environmental Impact Statement Filed For Five-Dam Hydro Project
in Chile

SEPT. 2008 - Green groups are stepping up protests in Chile now that
proponents of five hydroelectric dams in the Patagonian region of
Aysen have filed a long-awaited environmental-impact statement for
the project. The 10,500-page impact study says the dams will
require a total investment of US$3.2 billion and possess a combined
installed capacity of 2,750 megawatts. If the project wins
approval, the sponsors, Italian- and Spanish-owned Endesa and
Chile's Colbun, plan to begin construction next year. The first dam
would come on line on the Baker River in 2014 and the last one would
start up on the Pascua River in 2021. Construction is contingent
not only on the impact-statement's approval, but also on
authorization of a US$2 billion, 1,500-mile transmission line to
deliver the energy to Santiago and other cities in central Chile.

BRASILIA 00001465 012.2 OF 012

The dams would alter two prized Patagonian rivers, and the power
line would require a 120-meter right-of-way to be cut through
protected areas. But support for the projects is strong in business
and government circles on account of Chile's strained power

Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete

29. Finance Institutions, Corporations, and Conservationists Debate

On Sept. 4, the Technical Coordinating Committee of IIRSA (CCT)
hosted a small day-long meeting to discuss infrastructure and the
Amazon. The meeting was motivated by a growing perception that IIRSA
and related investment trends in the Amazon region are inducing
perverse and unsustainable effects that are undermining the
legitimacy of the infrastructure integration initiative. Under
discussion for months, the meeting was perhaps a first, modest
attempt to bring International Financial Institutions (IFIs),
corporations, and conservationists together to debate the
compatibility of large, high risk infrastructure projects in the
Amazon with sustainable, equitable development outcomes. As a
cooperative framework for coordination and planning, IIRSA remains
fragile and largely ineffective in its ability to address some of
the most urgent challenges. The lack of any legal or juridical
framework to institutionalize integration principles remains a major
obstacle (UNASUR is not viewed as a viable solution in the short
term). The meeting emphasized the social, environmental and
economic risks of IIRSA projects advancing much faster than
integration planning, and with virtually no planning for social and
environmental sustainability. The discussion sidestepped real
discussion of the Rio Madeira project, the Peru Southern
Interoceanic Highway, and other emblematic high risk projects that
undermine meaningful consideration of sustainability.

Source - BICECA


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