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Latin America Green News: Chilean animals in danger, Costa Rican monkeys protected, Mexican energy reform passed

Carolina Herrera

Posted August 15, 2014

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Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.

August 9th – August 15th, 2014

Chile

HidroAysén, the controversial massive hydroelectric project, appealed to the Environmental Court in Santiago this week to overturn the government’s June decision to cancel the company’s environmental permits, which were granted in 2011. The company argued that the government body responsible for cancelling those permits, the Committee of Ministers, acted illegally, abusively, arbitrarily and in a discriminatory way. While Santiago’s environmental court has accepted this appeal, the company is also working on an appeal to present to the Environmental Court in Valdivia by August 29. (Cooperativa.cl 8/13/2014; Pulso, 8/13/2014)

The Ministry of Environment’s recent study of fauna in Chile found that 66% of the animals studied are classified as endangered.  The study assessed 1,010 species, or 3% of Chile’s total plant and animal species, and found that 9% are considered to be in critical danger, 31% are in danger, 26% are vulnerable and 2% are nearing extinction. Some of these animals include the Darwin frog, the Arica hummingbird and the huemul. (Veoverde.cl, 8/11/2014; Hoy x Hoy, via Terram.cl, 8/11/2014)

Costa Rica

As howler monkeys face extinction due to the encroachment of pineapple farms into their habitat, a group of students from the National University (UNA) proposed a solution that would leave farms intact while creating a more suitable landscape for the monkeys. The students began by taking an inventory of the monkeys living in the Pital de San Carlos forest and mapping out the distribution of the howlers in the area. The proposal combines the reforestation of specific areas, planting of hedges and providing aerial bridges for the monkeys to increase the howler monkeys’ survivability. In addition, this initiative has the support of local pineapple farm owners as well as officials from the Ministry of Environment and Energy. (CR Hoy, 08/10/2014)

The Environmental Administrative Tribunal (TAA) is investigating 22 municipalities for the use of illegal dumps in depositing solid waste. Of these 22, eight have faced closure orders and two have already closed. The president of the TAA believes this may soon become a national issue as there will be fewer areas in the country which can serve as landfills. (La Nación, 8/14/2014)

Tortuguero, a popular tourism destination that is the third-most visited protected area in the country, is creating its own tourism board, called the Regional Tourism Chamber of Tortuguero, that will promote the area as a tourism destination with sustainable activities and attractions. This includes improving the planning and execution of the camera turtle nesting festival. The board, which will be ready by August 30, will include voices from various turtle conservation societies to better integrate environmental concerns with the business community.  (El Financiero, 8/12/2014)

Mexico

President Peña Nieto signed the package of secondary legislation that serves to implement the energy sector reform. In total nine new laws were passed and 12 existing laws were modified. Under the new laws private and foreign investment will be allowed in the fossil fuel and electric sectors. Analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) expect the reforms will help boost investment in renewable energy over the long run. In the short term, however, some investments may be delayed as investors seek to understand how the market, expected to begin operating in 2016, will be regulated and how investment mechanisms will work.  BNEF already expects Mexico to close out 2014 with record levels of investment in the renewable sector(Excelsior 8/11/2014; El Horizonte 8/11/2014)

In less than one week, two mining companies have been involved in spills of toxic substances into rivers in Sonora and Durango. The environmental impacts of these events have not been calculated yet. Despite these risks, only three percent of the investments mining companies make in Mexico are geared toward environmental protection. The rest of companies’ spending is for exploration and expansion activities and new projects.  (Imagen del Golfo 8/15/2014)

Regional

As the Panama Canal celebrates its 100th year anniversary, risks related to climate change are looming. Extreme weather events and changing water levels could create a “bottleneck” that impacts the global shipping system. (The Guardian 8/14/2014)

For more news on the issues we care about visit our Latin America Green News archive or read our other International blogs

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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