Latin America Green News: fracking in Chile, environment and elections in Costa Rica, coastal protection in Mexico
Posted January 17, 2014
Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.
January 12th-18th, 2014
Chile’s state oil company, ENAP (Empresa Nacional de Petróleo) announced that they are going to continue to invest in their hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—exploration in the southern-most region of the country. In its 2014 budget, the company dedicated $150 million to these activities to build upon the successful operations of 2012 and 2013, when the ENAP proved the existence of tight gas reserves in Patagonia. (I Love Chile 1/15/2014)
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of fishermen and environmentalists who argued that Endesa Chile’s Bocamina I coal-fired power plant is polluting coastal waters and killing crabs, sardines and other marine life. The ruling does not close the 128 MW facility but rather leaves that decision to environmental authorities. In December 2013, a regional appeals court closed the Bocamina II coal plant for environmental damages. (Reuters 1/10/2014)
Nine additional bird species have been spotted in Coco Island and added to the bird registry the Costa Rican Ornithology Association maintains for the island. The species, including herons and seagulls, were identified in the past two months as part of an effort to expand the knowledge and expertise of the local park staff. (Costa Rica Hoy 1/14/2014)
The five leading candidates in Costa Rica’s upcoming presidential elections all propose to make water quality an environmental priority. All five candidates agree on the need to promote laws to guarantee adequate water management. While not all are in favor of including water as a human right the Constitution, all five do give importance to universalizing access to drinking water. (La Nación 1/13/2014)
A new study by Costa Rica Limpia, a new citizens’ initiative, analyzed the environmental platforms of the five leading presidential candidates and concluded all five fail to explicitly link their environmental proposals to the national development agenda. Specifically the analysis found that they did not prioritize climate adaptation despite Costa Rica’s high vulnerability nor provide sufficient details on how candidates proposed to address the need for cleaner transportation. The study also points to a lack of clarity about what role Costa Rica’st carbon neutrality target will play in the country’s climate and development agenda during the next presidential period. While the candidates all support renewable energy, their proposals do not concretely address Costa Rica’s fossil fuel dependency and several candidates still support the construction of a controversial oil refinery. (El País 1/15/2014)
A Mexican delegation, led by Secretary of Energy, Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, will preside over the fourth annual meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency. The meeting will take place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on January 18th-20th. Mexico has set a goal of generating 35 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2024, in line with the requirements established in the Law for the Use of Renewable Energies and Financing of Energy Transition. (Milenio 1/15/2014).
Mexico will be hard pressed to achieve the renewable energy and reduction in CO2 goals it has set due to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s focus on hydrocarbons. Mexico invested 2.5 billion dollars on renewable energy, which only equates to 1% of total global investment and makes Mexico the G20 country with the lowest investments despite its high potential in all renewable energy sources according to Center of Research for Development A.C. (CIDAC). Luis Sierra, researcher at CIDAC, states that it’s necessary to eliminate the inefficient subsidies of fossil fuels and break the monopoly on energy held by the Federal Electricity Commission. (CNN México 1/14/2014)
A new study by marine biologist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Luis Medrano González, points to the need to protect the coasts of Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa and Baja California. His study highlights the effect human development has had on marine animals living in those areas such as the vaquita marina, blue whale, fin whale, sperm whale, sea lions and different species of dolphins. Medrano González wants these areas protected to prevent further harm to the marine life in the area. (Crónica 1/14/2014)