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Denée Reaves’s Blog

Latin America Green News: A new park in Chile, a new bill on natural capital in Costa Rica, and a new energy reform in Mexico

Denée Reaves

Posted December 13, 2013

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

December 8th-14th, 2013

Chile

The Piñera administration and well-known conservationists Doug and Kris Tompkins announced the creation of the Yendegaia National Park in Chile’s southernmost region, Magallanes. The 150,000 hectare park (roughly 370,000 acres) was a long-time project that the president will finalize in January before it opens to the public. The Tompkins donated 38,780 hectares to the park, with the government adding 111,832 hectares of public land, to create the new reserve which is home to three endangered animal species and native plants. (La Tercera, 12/11/2013; Santiago Times, 12/13/2013)

La Higuera, a town in the northern Coquimbo Region, will be home to the first wave power plant in Chile. The pilot project, which is still in its first stage of development, will use the mechanical energy of the waves to generate electricity for the reverse osmosis plant near Caleta Hornos. The project developers cite the enormous theoretical potential Chile has for wave power: one kilometer of coastline can generate 40 MW of power with one-meter waves and 1000 MW of power with five-meter waves. (El Día, 12/8/2013)

Costa Rica

A proposed bill would require the environmental impact assessments of new projects to include natural capital accounting to evaluate the impact on natural assets used or depreciated by the project’s development. The cost of the study would be covered by a project’s proponent and if the bill is approved the modified requirement would become effective in 2016. (El Financiero 12/10/2013)

Coco Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will soon have a new monitoring radar and 60 kW hydroelectric plant. The radar has a range of 100 mile and will monitor the waters around the island where fishing is illegal. The new hydro plant will power the radar, a control tower and park ranger station. (El País 12/10/2013)

The Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA) has a budget of approximately US$ 71,000 to carry out inspection and monitoring activities, but in reality needs at least $158,000. Despite the limited budget,  ACOSA’s Program for Prevention, Control and Protection has a long list of priorities for 2014. These include fighting illegal marine activities such as illegal fishing, turtle egg poaching, and shellfish collection. On land, they will work  to stop gold extraction, poaching, and illegal logging in protected areas including Corcovado National Park and the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve. Other priorities include carrying out activities to prevent encroachment in wetlands and pollution by agrochemicals. (La Nación 12/10/13)

Mexico

Newly elected mayors of Veracruz will work to develop 50 concrete Municipal Climate Action Plans in 2014, with the support of the British Embassy and ICLEI. These plans will then be implemented in the municipalities and will serve as a means of mitigating the effects of climate change. (Veracruzanos 12/11/2013)

Many environmentalists are fearful that Mexico’s new energy reform will hurt renewable energy sources as the reform mainly focuses on fossil fuel production. According to Greenpeace Mexico, the reform has been severely diminished and only takes into account economic aspects as opposed to the effect energy production will have on the population. The Mexican Alliance against Fracking says that the reform’s heavy emphasis on shale gas will be costly and harmful to water resources in the long run, and that fracking should be a last resort after all other renewable energy methods are exhausted. (Milenio 12/10/2013)

The Air Quality Social Management branch of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources is working on an economic stimulus program to incentivize businesses to produce and use cleaner transportation methods.  The strategy currently includes 145 businesses, 103 of which have already reduced its emissions while the rest are in process. The goal of the program is to reduce CO2 and other harmful emissions. Branch Director General Ana María Contreras Vigil noted that transportation contributes 24% of Mexico’s NO2, 42% of particulate matter (PM10), 51% of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and 22% of CO2, as well as black carbon. (Criterio Hidalgo 12/6/2013)

For more news on the issues we care about visit our Latin America 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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