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Cablegate: South America Esth News, Number 104

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 13 BRASILIA 002321

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS USAID TO LAC/RSD, LAC/SAM, G/ENV, PPC/ENV
TREASURY FOR USED IBRD AND IDB AND INTL/MDB
USDA FOR FOREST SERVICE: LIZ MAHEW
INTERIOR FOR DIR INT AFFAIRS: K WASHBURN
INTERIOR FOR FWS: TOM RILEY
INTERIOR FOR NPS: JONATHAN PUTNAM
INTERIOR PASS USGS FOR INTERNATIONAL: J WEAVER
JUSTICE FOR ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES: JWEBB
EPA FOR INTERNATIONAL: CAM HILL-MACON
USDA FOR ARS/INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH: G FLANLEY
NSF FOR INTERNATIONAL: HAROLD STOLBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR EAID TBIO ECON SOCI XR BR
SUBJECT: SOUTH AMERICA ESTH NEWS, NUMBER 104

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1. The following is the one-hundred-fourth in 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
stonerla@state.gov. The e-mail version also contains a calendar of
upcoming ESTH events in the region. NOTE: THE NEWSLETTER IS NOW
ALSO AVAILABLE ON THE BRASILIA INTRANET PAGE, BY CLICKING ON THE
'HUB' LINK.

2. Table of Contents

Agriculture
--(3)A Brazilian Engineer Uses Solar Power to Make the Desert Bloom

Water Issues
--(4)Brazil: Bishop Fasts Again for Sao Francisco River

Forests
--(5)Brazil Creates Voluntary Fund To Preserve The Amazon
--(6)Brazil: Amazon Deforestation Continues To Drop, But Is Still
High
--(7)Cost of Zeroing Amazon Deforestation: USD $257 Billion

Fishing & Marine Conservation
--(8)Fish Virus Worries Workers in Chile's Salmon Industry
--(9)Argentina: Whale Deaths Double
--(10)Chile's Surfer Activists Celebrate Environmental Victory

Science & Technology
--(11)Brazil, Argentina Launch Space Rocket

Infrastructure Development
--(12)Bolivia, Brazil, Chile Agree On Road Corridor Linking Pacific,
Atlantic
--(13)Brazil: Plans to Spend US$10.1 Billion on Amazon Iron Mine
--(14)UNICEF: Lack Of Basic Sanitation Will Leave Brazil Short Of
Millenium Goals
--(15)Chavez, Allies Launch Bank of the South as Alternative to US

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Backed Lenders

Mining & Other Extractive Industries
--(16)Green Gold (Oro Verde) Initiative Calls for Responsible
Small-Scale Mining in Colombia
--(17)Argentina and Chile to Sign Huge Andean Shared Mining Project
--(18)Brazilian Foundation Leads Protest against Canadian Gold
Corporation Kinross

Energy
--(19)Brazilian Consortium Wins Auction to Build Amazon Dam after
Protests Delay Bidding
--(20)Sugar Cane Threatens Brazilian Savannah
--(21)Venezuela, Brazil Pledge Energy Cooperation as Chavez and Lula
da Silva Deepen Ties
--(22)Wind Energy Farm Launched in Chile

Climate Change
--(23)Climate Change a Killer for Chile's Antarctic Penguins
--(24)Fleming Glacier in Danger in Chile's Antarctica

-----------
Agriculture
-----------

3. A Brazilian Engineer Uses Solar Power to Make the Desert Bloom

DEC. 10, 2007 - A report in Newsweek carries the successful story of
a Brazilian Eco-Engenho (small company specializing in renewable
energy), led by engineer Jos Roberto Fonseca, working in one of the
most arid regions in northeastern Brazil. Baixas (in the state of
Alagoas) is the poorest zone of Sco Jos da Tapera, one of the most
desperate municipalities on the continent, where the average monthly
wage is $24, half the population is illiterate and the
human-development index of .56 rivals that of the most wretched
regions of Africa. So when Jose Roberto Fonseca told the farmers
of Baixas they could use solar energy to grow their way out of
poverty, most thought he was crazy. In the sertao, or semidesert,
the sun has mostly been a curse, withering crops and baking the
topsoil. Using a solar-powered desalinator, Fonseca was able to
help farmers grow hydroponic gardens of peppers and create a market
for spices and condiments. Currently, eleven families in Baixias

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are making a good part of their income from peppers.

Source - Newsweek

------------
Water Issues
------------


4. Brazil: Bishop Fasts Again for Sao Francisco River

DEC. 11, 2007 - Brazilian Catholic Bishop Luiz Cappio has entered
the third week of his hunger strike against the diversion of water
from the Sao Francisco River, in the arid northeast of the country,
amid expressions of support. The Franciscan bishop, 61, is prepared
to continue his fast to the death, Ruben Siqueira, of the Land
Pastoral Commission (CPT), told IPS in a telephone interview from
Sobradinho, a small village in the northeastern state of Bahia on
the banks of the Sao Francisco, where Cappio is fasting and praying.
A communique from Cappio's diocese of Barra, in Bahia state, says
that the hunger strike will only end when Lula "finally shelves the
initiative" which, according to the government, seeks to provide
water for 12 million people in the semi-arid northeast of Brazil,
the country's poorest region. The project involves the building of
two canals to remove and redistribute water from the river, and will
cost some 3.6 billion dollars. Cappio is continuing his hunger
strike, taking only filtered river water from the Sao Francisco with
a little sugar. His chapel has become a centre of pilgrimage. Two
years ago, Cappio called off his first hunger strike after 11 days,
when the government promised more public debate and consultations
before undertaking the project, after sending a representative to
talk to the bishop. Dialogue began, followed by the elections in
which Lula won a second term of office. "Then, in spite of letters
from the bishop and every possible action, nothing was decided, and
the government resumed work on the project," Siqueira said.

Source - International Press Service

NOTE FROM THE HUB: A federal judge ordered the suspension of the Sao
Francisco project, on the basis of technical arguments against a
certificate of hydrological capacity issued by the National Council
of Water Resources (CNRH). The military engineer corps in charge of

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the work has halted excavations and studies of the terrain until
January 07. Still D. Cappio did not end his hunger strike. After 23
days of a hunger strike against the major project to divert Sao
Francisco River waters throughout the Northeast Region, Bishop D.
Luiz Cappio fainted and was taken to a hospital. The same day the
Supreme Federal Court (STF) removed an injunction and rejected a
request by the Public Prosecutors Office against the project.

-------
Forests
-------

5. Brazil Creates Voluntary Fund To Preserve The Amazon

DEC. 13, 2007 - Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva
presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali a proposal for
the creation of the Fund for the Protection and Conservation of the
Brazilian Amazon. Under the proposal, the fund would accept
voluntary international donations for Brazil to meet "internal and
verifiable" goals of deforestation prevention. According to Minister
Silva, there is an expectation of USD $150 million in donations,
which would be administrated by the federal development bank BNDES.
Also according to the minister, there is already a USD $100 million
donation from Norway. Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim
did not discuss how much his country would donate, but said that
keeping tropical forests standing would help reduce emissions and
have the added value of protecting biodiversity.

Source - O Estado de Sao Paulo (no link)

6. Brazil: Amazon Deforestation Continues To Drop, But Is Still
High

DEC. 07, 2007 - The deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon forest
has dropped for three consecutive years - in the period between 2006
and 2007, 11,224 square kilometers have been deforested, or 20% less
than in the 2005-2006 period. This result ties with the 1991
deforestation, which is considered the year when there was least
deforestation since the measurements began. Critics say that past
reductions have been prompted by a drop in international commodity
prices, which reduced the economic pressure for deforestation.
According to the critics, which include Greenpeace, current figures

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predict an acceleration of deforestation in 2008.

Source - Public Affairs, US Embassy Brasilia. Original Source: O
Estado de Sao Paulo

7. Cost of Zeroing Amazon Deforestation: USD 257 Billion

DEC. 03, 2007 - Zeroing the deforestation of the Amazon over 10
years and maintaining it for another 20 would cost USD 257 billion,
according to a report prepared by U.S. and Brazilian researchers
that was presented at the Climate Conference in Bali. According to
the report, that would be the "opportunity cost" of the other
economic activities that would take place in the region with current
deforestation trends. The U.S. Woods Hole Research Center and
Brazil's Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) participated
in the study.

Source - Public Affairs, US Embassy Brasilia

-----------------------------
Fishing & Marine Conservation
-----------------------------

8. Fish Virus Worries Workers in Chile's Salmon Industry

DEC. 10, 2007 - As the list of Chilean salmon farms officially
infected with Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) continues to grow, it
is becoming increasingly evident that the industry's ongoing
problems with the illness are far from over. Six months ago
scientists confirmed the presence of ISA on at least two Chilean
fish farms - both operated by Norwegian-owned Marine Harvest, the
world's largest farmed salmon company. ISA is a highly contagious
virus that can be lethal to fish but does not affect humans. The
situation confirms complaints that NGOs like Oceana, Ecoceanos, and
the Pure Salmon Campaign have been making for years - Chile's salmon
industry is blind to the environmental damage it is causing. "ISA
is the tip of the iceberg," said Juan Carlos Crdenas, director
Santiago-based Ecoceanos. "It reflects all of the industry's
problems - the lack of proper management, a policy that's focused
exclusively on expansion and production without taking into account
what (the environment) can really handle."


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Source - Santiago Times (no link)

9. Argentina: Whale Deaths Double

DEC. 10, 2007 - The unusual spike in the number of dead whales found
on the beaches of the southern Argentine province of Chubut in
October and November has caused concern at the Whale Conservation
Institute (ICB). The annual average in recent years was about 40
whales, but it more than doubled to 85 this year, ICB coordinator
Roxana Schteinbarg told Tierramerica. Some experts attribute the
phenomenon to a health problem afflicting the species, while others
suggest environmental factors, but it can't be determined for sure
until test results are in, she said. For the past five years, ICB
and other groups have been conducting the southern right whale
monitoring program. The species numbers about 5,300 in the waters
around the Valdes Peninsula, on the Chubut coast.

Source - Tierramerica

10. Chile's Surfer Activists Celebrate Environmental Victory

DEC. 01, 2007 - Chile's most revered surfers and their friends
recently celebrated the withdrawal of the water company ESSBIO's
proposed pipelined project in the coastal town of Pichilemu. The
project would have channeled the community's wastewater - which now
gathers in a nearby fetid lagoon - straight through the town's
principal beach for deposit 1 kilometer into the ocean. Steady
community opposition, coupled with the international attention
brought to the issue by surfer activists, succeeded in convincing
the company and local government to scrap the project and invest in
a proper water treatment facility. With this campaign victory for
Chile behind them, the international non governmental organization
(NGO) Save the Waves Coalition (STW) and Chile-based non-profit
Proplaya will continue to battle Chile's pulp producing giant,
Celulosa Arauco (CELCO) in Cobquecura, with the hopes of promoting a
healthy ocean ecosystem, while preserving this special spot for
future generations of surfers.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)

--------------------
Science & Technology

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--------------------

11. Brazil, Argentina Launch Space Rocket

DEC. 16, 2007 -- Brazil and Argentina successfully launched a rocket
into space on December 16 in the first joint space mission by the
two South American nations. The VS30 rocket, which carried
experiments from both countries, blasted off from Brazil's Barreira
do Inferno launch center in northern Rio Grande do Norte state,
Brazil's Space Agency said in a statement. The rocket reached an
altitude of 75 miles and its journey -- which lasted 9 minutes, 25
seconds -- was considered ''perfect,'' the agency said. Liftoff was
delayed several times since December 12 by bad weather. The mission
was the fruit of a 1998 accord between space agencies in Brazil,
which has launched rockets into space before, and Argentina, which
has relied on other nations to send up satellites.

Source - The New York Times

--------------------------
Infrastructure Development
--------------------------

12. Bolivia, Brazil, Chile Agree On Road Corridor Linking Pacific,
Atlantic

DEC. 17, 2007 -- Bolivia, Brazil and Chile have signed an agreement
to create a corridor linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans,
according to reports. Under the agreement signed by the presidents
of the three countries on December 16, the road link will become
operational in 2009. The Bolivia stretch of the road totals 1,600
km, 75 percent of which is ready for use. The three unfinished parts
that link Santa Cruz to Puerto Suarez, Oruro to Pisiga, and Santa
Matias to Concepcion require USD $415 million, USD $78 million and
USD $260 in investment, respectively. In Chile, two projects are
under plan -- a 192-km road starting in Arica and another 216-km
stretch linking Iquique to its eastern border with Bolivia. Brazil
will invest nearly USD $133 to refurbish a stretch of highway that
is already in use. A total of 2,225 km of existing road will be
re-profiled as part of this corridor.

Source - China View

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13. Brazil: Plans to Spend US$10.1 Billion on Amazon Iron Mine

DEC. 12, 2007 - Compania Vale do Rio Doce, the world's largest
iron-ore producer, said it will spend US$10.1 billion to construct
the Serra Sul mine in Brazil's Amazon (Para State) to meet rising
demand from Chinese steelmakers. The mine will produce 90 million
metric tons a year after opening in the first half of 2012 Serra Sul
would be the world's second-largest iron-ore mine after the
company's Carajas mine. Vale, already supplying more than a third
of the world's iron-ore exports, said it is developing more new
projects than any other mining company and will spend US$59 billion
in the next five years to build them and expand existing sites.
Prices of iron ore sold on spot markets has more than doubled to
about US$100 a metric ton in the past year. Vale also disclosed
plans to spend US$2.21 billion to develop the Maquine-Bau mine,
scheduled to open in 2011 and produce 25 million tons of iron ore
annually.

Source - Bloomberg

14. UNICEF: Lack Of Basic Sanitation Will Leave Brazil Short Of
Millenium Goals

DEC. 12, 2007 - Brazil's slowness in increasing access to basic
sanitation services to its population - the sewer collection and
treatment infrastructure reached 71% of the population in 1990 and
increased to just 75% in 2004 - will stand in the way of reaching
the UN Millennium Goals by 2015, says the "Progress for Children"
report unveiled by UNICEF. On the positive side, Brazil has had a
good performance in reducing child mortality and malnutrition and in
increasing school attendance.

Source - Public Affairs, US Embassy Brasilia. Original source: O
Globo

15. Chavez, Allies Launch "Bank of the South" as Alternative to US
Backed Lenders

DEC. 10, 2007 - Hugo Chavez and leaders of six other South American
nations launched a regional development bank that they tout as the
continent's alternative to U.S.-influenced international lenders.

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With as much as US$7 billion in expected startup capital, backers
say the Banco del Sur, or Bank of the South, will offer Latin
American countries loans with fewer strings attached than those
given by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the
Inter-American Development Bank. Officials say it will dispense
loans for projects from road-building to anti-poverty programs and
regional integration plans. "It's a very interesting initiative
which I think expresses the desire to find stronger cooperation
between Latin American governments," the World Bank's chief
economist for Latin America, Augusto de la Torre, said in a recent
interview. "As far as the World Bank is concerned, this new
initiative is not perceived as a competitor."

Source - The Associated Press

------------------------------------
Mining & Other Extractive Industries
------------------------------------

16. Oro Verde (Green Gold) Initiative Calls for Responsible
Small-Scale Mining in Colombia

Inspired by the success of fair-trade tea and coffee, the Oro Verde
initiative worked with local communities in the Choco region of
Colombia to develop a set of environmental and social criteria for
small-scale gold mining including reduction in mercury use and
promotion of education and community development. With the higher
price miners receive from Oro Verde for sustainably produced gold,
they are working to restore degraded areas and establish
conservation zones within community territories. Almost 200
Afro-Colombian mining families have signed up under the initiative
to date. Internationally, the Association of Responsible Mining
(ARM), an independent, multi-national initiative based in Colombia,
is also using Oro Verde's experiences to develop a framework for
responsible small-scale mining that can be applied in other regions
of the world.

Source - Green Gold Initiative

17. Argentina and Chile to Sign Huge Andean Shared Mining Project

NOV. 29, 2007 - The governments of Chile and Argentina signed an

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agreement pushing forward the development of another massive
bi-national mining project. The deal is intended to hurry approval
of work at "Las Flechas" mineral deposits by using existing treaties
and protocols to govern its construction. Under the agreement, the
1.5 billion US dollars project, straddling Chile's Region III and
Argentina's San Juan Province, would fall under the scope of the
nearly ten-year old Treaty of Integration and Mining. Investment at
"Las Flechas" is a joint venture between the Japanese Jogmec and
Brazilian CVRD mining companies. Jogmec has a large division
centered on making mine production less damaging to the environment.
However, CVRD has come under criticism in the past for pollutants
emitted at some of its plants.

Source - MercoPress

18. Brazilian Foundation Leads Protest against Canadian Gold
Corporation Kinross

OCT. 20, 2007 - Acangau foundation, a Brazilian non-profit
organization, published an independent report on the environmental
risks of Kinross Gold Corporation's mine in Paracatu, a town near
the Brasilia (220km), population 75,000 people. The report calls
attention to some worrying health, social and environmental impacts
of Kinross' large scale open pit mine located at the outskirts of
Paracatu. Citizens inflicted by the health and environmental losses
caused by the gold mine in Paracatu are requesting that Kinross take
mitigatory and compensatory actions in order to make its expansion
project environmentally sustainable, socially fair, and thus
acceptable by the people of Paracatu.

Source - Acangau Foundation

------
Energy
------

19. Brazilian Consortium Wins Auction to Build Amazon Dam after
Protests Delay Bidding

DEC. 10, 2007 - A Brazilian consortium won an auction to build and
operate a major dam (Santo Antonio) in the Amazon rain forest.
Consorcio Madeira Energetica, a group that includes participation by

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big construction company Norberto Odebrecht SA, beat out two other
consortiums with participation by Spain's Endesa SA and the
Franco-Belgian utility Suez. The auction was delayed for hours
while riot police removed about 80 protesters who stormed the
Brasilia offices of Brazilian electric power agency Aneel. Brazil's
Movement of Dam-Affected People organized the protest along with
groups representing landless workers, saying the 3,150 megawatt dam
and another one nearby could force 10,000 people from their remote
rural homes. Environmentalists say the dam could harm a pristine
part of the Amazon, but the government says it is needed to help
prevent electricity shortages in Latin America's largest country.
In May, the government is expected open bidding on the Jirau dam -
along the same stretch of the Madeira River as the Santo Antonio
dam- which is expected to generate 3,326 megawatts of energy.
Together the two dams are expected to supply 8 percent of the
country's energy needs.

Source - The Associated Press

20. Sugar Cane Threatens Brazilian Savannah

DEC. 05, 2007 - While all eyes are turned to the Amazon, the
expansion of sugar cane crops throughout Brazil threatens another
delicate ecosystem: the Brazilian cerrado savannah. According to a
study prepared by Brazilian NGO ISPN, 47 new ethanol plants are
planned for construction in cerrado areas of the states of Goias,
Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais over the next few years. The NGO
estimates that 22,000 square kilometers of cerrado a year could be
destroyed as a result of the expansion of the agricultural border
over the next few years.

Source - Public Affairs, US Embassy Brasilia. Original source:
Folha de Sao Paulo

21. Venezuela, Brazil Pledge Energy Cooperation As Chavez and Silva
Deepen Ties

DEC. 14, 2007 - Venezuela and Brazil signed accords pledging to
boost trade and link their economies through energy cooperation as
presidents Hugo Chavez and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva seek to deepen
ties. Chavez said Venezuela will provide 100,000 barrels of crude
oil per day to a refinery being built in Brazil by the two

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countries' state-run oil companies - Petroleo Brasileiro SA
(Petrobras) and Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). Petrobras will
have a 60 percent stake in the refinery in the state of Pernambuco,
with PDVSA holding 40 percent under an agreement signed by
officials. It was one of 12 commercial accords finalized after
Chavez and Silva met privately. Petrobras also is to help quantify
oil reserves in Venezuela's lucrative Orinoco River basin.

Source - The Associated Press

22. Wind Energy Farm Launched in Chile

DEC. 11, 2007 - Chile's president Michelle Bachelet launched on
December 6 the first wind farm connected to Chile's national
electricity network. With this endeavor, Chile is closer to
reaching its goal of having 15 percent of its electricity generated
from renewable sources by 2010. Currently, only 2.4 percent of the
country's energy is renewable. The wind farm in Canela, located in
the region of Coquimbo, will generate 18.5 MW. According to the
company responsible for creating the wind farm, the project will
avoid the emission of 27 million tons of carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere. It will also help diversify sources of energy in a
country which imports two-thirds of its energy and is predicted to
double its energy consumption over the next ten years.

Source - SciDev

--------------
Climate Change
--------------

23. Climate Change a Killer for Chile's Antarctic Penguins

DEC. 12, 2007 - Global climate change is posing a major threat to
the various species of penguin that breed in Antarctica, according
to a recent report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The world's
South Pole, the group claims, is heating up at five times the global
rate. As a result, Antarctic sea ice has receded by some 40 percent
in just the last quarter century. Temperature changes, furthermore,
have been noted at up to 3,000 meters below the ocean's surface.
That melting process has been particularly bad news for the four
penguin species- the Adelie, Emperor, Chinstrap and Gentoo - that

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breed in Antarctica. Part of the problem is direct habit loss, as
portions of sea ice on which many penguins breed are breaking off
earlier each season. The warming process has also reduced the
population of krill, on which penguins depend for food.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)

24. Fleming Glacier in Danger in Chile's Antarctica

DEC. 10, 2007 - Scientists from the Center of Scientific Studies
(CECS), the Antarctic Chilean Institute, and the Air Force recently
reported last week that Fleming Glacier, located in the Antarctic
Peninsula, is showing signs of receding. With a land mass of 6,200
square kilometers and two kilometers thick, Fleming Glacier is one
of the largest in the region. Aerial photographs of the glacier's
surface reveal cracks that are so large that small planes could fit
into them. Furthermore, numerous ice floes border the edge of the
glacier - a sign that the ice mass is splintering. Even more
alarming, however, is the rate at which the glacier is receding. In
the 1970s, the glacial mass moved between two and four meters per
day, but today the scientists say it is moving four to eight meters
per day.

Source - Santiago Times (no link)

CHICOLA

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