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South America Environment, Science & Technology, and Health Newsletter Edition 95

by Stoner, Larissa A — last modified Jan 10, 2013 08:03 AM
Contributors: rhessmiller
The information contained was gathered from news sources from across the region, and the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of the Regional Environmental HUB Office or of our constituent posts. Addressees interested in sharing any ESTH-related events of USG interest are welcome to do so. n accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
Health: Thailand and Brazil Look To Co-Operate On Healthcare; Aerial Spraying of Herbicide 'Damages DNA. Water Issues: Paraguayan Aquifer Wounded and Contaminated. Forests: Brazil Busts Illegal Logging Ring In Amazon Reserve; Venezuelan Reforestation Effort Takes Root; Ecuador Seeks Aid Not to Exploit Amazon Oil Brazil: Indians Want Pay for Forest Care; Peru's Rainforest: Oil and Gas Run Through It; Peruvian Fights for ‘Uncontacted’ Indian Groups. Wildlife: Colombia: New Hummingbird Species Needs Immediate Protection. Fishing & Marine Conservation: More Concern in Chile about Salmon Farms’ Chemical Use; Chile: Controversial Salmon Farm Denied Permission to Expand Protected Areas; Yosemite and Torres del Paine Twinning Agreement. Science & Technology: Brazil and India Set Up Work Team for Space Program; Chile to Be Regional Headquarters of Latin America’s First Scientific Network Brazil and China Will Donate Satellite Images to African Countries; Uruguay Receives US$26 Million to Promote Innovation; Latin America to Increase Research & Development Funds. Urban Waste & Pollution: Chile: Santiago Faces Worst Smog Levels In Eight Years; Chile: Transantiago Continues To Bedevil Bachelet Administration; Closing Landfills Far Easier Than Opening Them for Buenos Aires. Climate Change: Climate Change-Brazil: Once and Future Environmental Leader? Energy Brazil Environment Minister Attacks Nuclear Option; Will Colombia’s Biofuel Push Spur Deforestation? Brazil and Senegal Sign Biofuel Agreement; Chile’s Energy Designs Point to Patagonia; Argentina Confronts Biofuels Craze. General Argentina Inaugurates Office Dedicated To Prosecuting Environmental Crimes; Millennium Development Goals 'beyond Brazil's reach; Bachelet Appoints Chile’s First Environment Minister; Venezuela: Plains Vistas in the Caracas Subway; In Bolivia, Some Specifics on Green Policy; Argentina: Mining Project Plays Role in Governor’s fall.


NOTE:  The South America ESTH Newsletter is now also available on the Intranet - http://brasilia.state.gov/hub/default.htm

Edition #95.  click here for  a calendar of up-coming ESTH events across the Western Hemisphere. 

 




 

Health     

Thailandand Brazil Look To Co-Operate On Healthcare

 

MAY 21, 2007 -Thailandand Brazil, the two nations that have most recently taken out compulsory licensing orders for patent-protected drugs, are planning to sign a health cooperation agreement this summer.  Attending the 60th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Switzerland, Thailand's Minister of Public Health, Mongkol Na Songkhla said that he had discussed the issue with his Brazilian counterpart Jose Gomes Temperao and the two countries now plan to cooperate on health development as well as on manufacturing medicines, including vaccines for influenza.  The countries are currently regarded as flagbearers in the fight for cheaper drugs by opponents of the pharmaceutical industry and earlier this month Brazil's president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva issued the license which gives the government's health ministry the green light to import a generic version of Merck & Co's patent-protected HIV treatment Stocrin/Sustiva (efavirenz) from India at around $0.45 per pill.

 

Source – PharmaTimeshttp://www.pharmatimes.com/WorldNews/Articles/10891-thailand-brazil.aspx?src=WN

 

Aerial Spraying of Herbicide 'Damages DNA'

 

May 17, 2007 - Aerial spraying of a herbicide by the Colombian government on the border of Colombia and Ecuador has caused a high degree of DNA damage in local Ecuadorian people, according to a study.  The research will be published in the next issue of Genetics and Molecular Biology.  The scientists, from the Pontificia Catholic University in Ecuador, analyzed blood samples from 24 Ecuadorians living within three kilometers of the border of the two countries.  Aerial spraying of a herbicide formulation containing glyphosate ― sold under the name Roundup by Monsanto ― took place on the Colombian side of the border between late 2000 and early 2001.  According to the paper, the application rate of the herbicide (liters per hectare) was 20 times the maximum recommended rate for the formulated product.  Half the individuals in the group received spraying directly over their houses, and the blood samples were taken within two months of the spraying taking place.  In addition to expected symptoms ― including vomiting and diarrhea, blurred vision, and difficulty in breathing ― the researchers found a significantly higher degree of DNA damage ― 600 to 800 per cent higher ― in the people living near the border compared with those 80 kilometers away.  Both Colombia and Ecuador have formed national scientific and technical commissions to study the effects of aerially spraying this herbicide formulation, with the Ecuadorian commission concluding it does affect humans and the Colombian commission refuting this claim.

 

Source – SciDevhttp://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3622&language=1

 

Water Issues

Paraguayan Aquifer Wounded and Contaminated

 

May 7, 2007 -The invasion of saltwater and sewage is contaminating the Patiño aquifer, one of Paraguay's main sources of water.  The Patiño extends below 1,173 square km of southern Paraguay: below Asunción and the metropolitan area, the entire Central department and part of Paraguari department, a very urbanized zone that is home to more than 38 percent of the country's population of six million.  It's the "younger brother" of the Guaraní aquifer, which is 1.2 million square km and is shared by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.  Patiño's location is both its greatest asset and worst threat, explains Elena Benítez, water resources director for Paraguay's environment agency, SEAM.  Over-extraction has resulted in reduced aquifer water levels and a substantial increase in contamination.  According to SEAM studies, the aquifer's water level falls an average of one meter per year.  The salinization is the direct result of this process and affects the areas along the banks of the Paraguay River, which divides the country into two regions: Oriental and Occidental or Chaco.

 

Source – Tierramericahttp://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0505/iarticulo.shtml

 

Forests

BrazilBusts Illegal Logging Ring In Amazon Reserve

 

May 16, 2007 - Brazilian police broke up a suspected illegal logging ring involving Indians, environmental officials, ranchers and businessmen believed to have felled and sold around 2,000 truckloads of logs from an Indian reserve in the Amazon.  A police statement said 17 people had been arrested and dozens more suspects were being hunted in four states.  Those detained included three leaders of the Trumai Indian tribe who lived in the Xingu National Park and four officials of the environmental protection agency IBAMA who had issued permits authorizing logging in prohibited areas of the reserve.  About 1.4 million cubic feet (40, 000 cubic meters) of wood were extracted from Xingu over an unspecified period of time and transported and sold to lumber businesses, the police said.  Corruption inside IBAMA, which was reorganized last month, has been part of the problem. Dozens of IBAMA officials have been arrested in recent years for similar schemes.

 

Source – Alertnethttp://www.alertnet.org

 

Venezuelan Reforestation Effort Takes Root

 

MAY 2007 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez last June unveiled his country’s reforestation program atop Mount Ávila, a peak that overlooks Caracas from El Ávila National Park.  The launch of the five-year program, intended to forest 370,000 acres (150,000 has), came seven years after torrential rains unleashed floods and landslides on Mount Ávila, killing 15,000 people and leaving 100,000 homeless in the Caracas area.  Deforestation caused by illegal squatters and loggers played a major role in the disaster, experts say.  Now, 11 months after it started, the reforestation program known as Misión Árbol (Mission Tree) is beginning to show results for its US$23 million first-year budget.  Peasant farmers and schoolchildren, organized in so-called Conservation Committees, are designing reforestation projects on their land and are being paid minimum wage—the equivalent of about US$10 a day—to implement them.  Environmentalists, though pleasantly surprised by the progress, have doubts about the endeavor’s long-term impacts.  Citing the program’s five-year goal of 370,000 acres (150,000 has), they point out that Venezuela typically loses twice that amount of forest in a single year.

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

EcuadorSeeks Aid Not to Exploit Amazon Oil

May 18, 2007 -Ecuadorian officials recently told an international meeting [sixth annual meeting of the world body's Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues] that their government would ban exploitation of huge oil reserves if it was compensated for its effort to save the natural habitat of the Amazon region.  The untapped oil reserves are located in the heart of the Amazon, considered by scientists to be one of the most bio-diverse rainforests in the world.  If explored and developed, the fields are expected to deliver more than 900 million barrels of oil.  According to an official, Ecuador would need financial assistance from the international community in exchange for the decision not to exploit the oil.  The country will wait up to a year to determine if there has been an adequate response.  This appeal came nearly two months after the energy ministry in Ecuador declared that it was ready to leave the oil in the ground because it did not want to harm an area of "extraordinary biodiversity".  But ministry officials warned that they would be able to implement this decision only if and when the world community delivered "at least one-half of the resources" likely to be generated by oil extraction.

Source -IPShttp://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37794

 

Brazil: Indians Want Pay for Forest Care

 

May 7, 2007 - Indigenous groups -- fisherfolk and rubber tappers in the Brazilian Amazon -- have relaunched the Aliança dos Povos da Floresta (Alliance of Forest Peoples - APF), founded in the 1980s, to demand recognition of their role in the preservation of the jungle and of the world's climate.  At a recent seminar in the Amazonian city of Manaus, its leaders approved a manifesto in favor of international remuneration for halting deforestation and announced the creation of their own approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  "We want more than payment for maintaining the forests," but rather public policies that "consider the human beings who live in the Amazon," improving the quality of life, Jecinaldo Cabral, leader of the federation of indigenous organizations of the Brazilian Amazon, told Tierramérica.  The APF will hold its second national meeting in September, he said.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0505/iecobreves.shtml

 

Peru's Rainforest: Oil and Gas Run Through It

 

MAY 07, 2007 - The Peruvian government is increasingly pushing an oil and gas boom through some of the world's most biodiverse rain forests.  In 2006, 70 percent of the country's pristine Amazonian rainforest was zoned for oil and gas, up from just 13 percent in 2004, according to a study by groups including Environmental Defense and Oxfam.  This year the country is tendering an additional 22.2 million acres – an area larger than the state of Maine – the report states.  And as ethnic Amazonian natives are increasingly lured by hydrocarbon development but threatened by contamination, disease, and culture shock, international supporters are working to press governments, companies, and banks to develop the rain-forest regions in low-impact, sustainable ways.  But both oil companies and their antagonists say the Peruvian government could do more to protect fragile cultures.

 

Source – Christian Science Monitorhttp://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0507/p04s01-woam.html?page=3.  SEE ALSOLIMA   1774,PERULNG: NEW PIPE, BUT NO NEW JUNGLE PIPELINE

 

Peruvian Fights for ‘Uncontacted’ Indian Groups

 

MAY 2007 - Julio Cusurichi grew up in a Shipibo indigenous community in the Peruvian Amazon department of Madre de Dios, a region of sinuous rivers and thick tropical forest bordering Brazil and Bolivia.  Thanks to his work on behalf of the environment and “uncontacted” native peoples living in isolation in Madre de Dios, he has received the Goldman Environmental Prize—the prestigious green award that every year goes to a leading environmental activist in each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions.  On April 22, he received the $125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize for Central and South America in recognition for his efforts. Those efforts produced a breakthrough in 2002, after a series of conflicts pitting loggers against indigenous people and environmentalists.  Fenamad (Federation of Natives of Madre de Dios and its Tributaries) and other groups pressed successfully for the creation of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve for the Harakmbut, Yine and Matsiguenga communities and the Madre de Dios Territorial Reserve to protect nomadic peoples.  The battle, however, is far from over.  Cusurichi says that after they were established, the reserves “only existed on paper.” He adds: “That wasn’t enough. Loggers kept going in.”  Peruvian President Alan García recently insisted all timber Peru exports is legal, but U.S. diplomats acknowledge contraband mahogany is a stumbling block for Peru’s free-trade agreement with the United States, which has yet to come up for a vote in the U.S. Congress.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Wildlife

Colombia: New Hummingbird Species Needs Immediate Protection

 

MAY 14, 2007 - The flamboyantly colored Gorgeted Puffleg Eriocnemis isabellae, a new species of hummingbird, has been discovered in Colombia.  But there are concerns over its future safety because the Serrania del Pinche mountains where it was discovered are unprotected.  “This is an important discovery for bird conservation and further evidence of how much more there is to learn about the world’s forests, and how much we stand to lose if they are allowed to be destroyed.”said Ian Davidson, Head of BirdLife International's Americas Programme based in Ecuador.  “Gorgeted Puffleg is a flagship species for the biodiversity ofSerrania del Pinche, which must be conserved,” he added.  A number of conservation organizations are now looking to ensure the region is secured further protection.  The Hummingbird Conservancy has started a conservation initiative with local communities and governmental organizations, whilst Fundación Ecohabitat (Colombia) is working to reduce the relentless expansion of agriculture into the forests by promoting use of legal crops and sustainable agriculture.

 

Source – Birdlife http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2007/05/colombia_new_hummingbird_discovery.html 

 

Fishing & Marine Conservation

More Concern in Chile about Salmon Farms’ Chemical Use

 

MAY 2007 - Chile’s salmon-farming industry once again finds itself accused of using banned chemicals.  Moreover, scientists say salmon farms’ excessive use of chemicals has caused sea lice to become resistant to the treatments used to control them, increasing the mortality rate of Chilean salmon this year.  In December, British authorities announced that while testing imported Chilean salmon, they detected crystal violet—a banned substance that they believe is used by some salmon farms to kill fungus and parasites.  The same month, the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued an alert and recall warning, prompting supermarkets in the United Kingdom to withdraw the salmon.  Don Staniford, European representative for the Pure Salmon Campaign, an international initiative sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based group National Environmental Trust, says the incident demonstrates a need for greater monitoring and testing of Chilean farmed salmon.  On previous occasions salmon from Chilean fish farms had been found to contain traces of another banned chemical: malachite green.  Amid the ongoing controversy, another problem has further fueled debate over chemical use in the salmon sector—this one concerning sea lice.  Scientists say the main reason for the problem is that sea lice have become resistant to antibiotics and to antiparasitic chemicals. Sea lice do not directly kill the fish, but weaken them, which is leading to higher incidences of diseases such as infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN) and salmon rickettsial syndrome (SRS).

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Chile: Controversial Salmon Farm Denied Permission to Expand

MAY 17, 2007 - The stunning, tourism-friendly city of Pucón in southern Chile’s Region IX is just saying no – to fish farming.  Pucón’s mayor and city councilors voted unanimously in favor of a moratorium on new fish farm (aquaculture) operations.  The decision marked a rare public stance against the lucrative industry, which overall generated some US$2.2 billion in earnings last year and is a major source of employment in southern Chile – reasons enough for local and national authorities to treat salmon and trout farming as more or less untouchable.  City leaders in Pucón, however, say they’ve had enough with the largely unregulated fish farms that are moving into the area, polluting the area’s beautiful lakes and rivers.  Still, the City Hall decision – symbolic or not – has not gone unnoticed. One group that immediately tuned into the move is the Pure Salmon Campaign, a Washington D.C.-based organization that seeks to protect the environment, consumers and local communities through improved fish-farming standards.  “We’re looking forward to what’s going on down there, because this is a new initiative. What’s completely new is a town deciding that they don’t want more aquaculture,” said Cristian Perez, the Campaign’s Chile representative.

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

 

Protected Areas

Yosemite and Torres del Paine Twinning Agreement

 

May 14, 2007 - California’s Yosemite and Chile’s Torres del Paine national parks administratorsMichael Tollefson and Jose Linnebrink, respectively, visited Punta Arenas and met with local authorities in the framework of the recently signed twinning agreement with the purpose of promoting sustainable tourism.  Tollefson said that the first leg of the two year agreement will include an exchange of forest rangers and sharing experiences relative to the management of natural reserves and concession practices.  Further on an exchange of management experts and forestry graduates will be considered.

Source - Mercopresshttp://www.mercopress.com/vernoticia.do?id=10489&formato=html 

 

Science & Technology

Braziland India Set Up Work Team for Space Program

 

May 21, 2007 - Representatives of Brazil's Space Agency (AEB) and India's Space Department (ISRO) have set up a team to study cooperation in the space sectors of both countries.  The two countries' team space study will be presented in September, in India, at the 58th International Space Congress sponsored by the International Space Federation.  Satellite projects, such as satellite tracking, satellite launching and development projects, are the main areas the two countries will focus on.  Brazil has shown an interest in tele-medicine and tele-education programs, interchange of scientists.   India's space activities are mainly focused on satellite programs linked to food safety, management of natural resources and disaster monitoring.

 

Source – Space Dailyhttp://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Brazil_And_India_Set_Up_Work_Team_For_Space_Program_999.html

 

Chile To Be Regional Headquarters Of Latin America’s First Scientific Network

MAY 11, 2007 -  Craig Mundie, Microsoft chief research and strategy officer and successor to Bill Gates, announced the creation of a Latin American virtual research foundation dedicated to unifying the region's scientists on potentially world-changing projects. The Latin American Collaborative Research Federation will work with Microsoft to explore emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their applications across the region, with an eye toward solving important social and economic issues.  The unprecedented initiative aims to create sustainable technology solutions in public sectors such as education, healthcare, agribusiness, micro-economies, energy and the environment.  The three-year project will receive nearly $1 million in funding along with collaborative support from Microsoft.  The Research Federation will be structured as a “virtual institute” in collaboration with the Universidad Catolica de Chile and the Universidad de Chile.

Source – Santiago Times (no link).  See alsohttp://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3616&language=1

 

Braziland China Will Donate Satellite Images to African Countries

 

MAY 08, 2007 – Brazil and China, in collaboration with Spain, Italy, and South Africa, have reached an agreement to offer free data obtained by its satellites (CBERS) to African countries, which will be useful to avoid disasters, improve resource management, and even foresee epidemics.  The agreement between the two countries is included in the activities of the Global Earth Observation (GEO) alliance.  The agreement between in China and Brazil will be presented during the first GEO ministerial conference, which will happen in South Africa in November, as a “useful and concrete” example of the importance of sharing data to combat climate change, promote economic development, and foresee natural disasters.

 

Source – Estado de Sao Paulohttp://www.estadao.com.br/ciencia/noticias/2007/mai/08/313.htm

 

UruguayReceives US$26 Million to Promote Innovation

 

MAY 08, 2007 – The World Bank has allocated US$26 Million to the Government of Uruguay (GOU) to promote innovation and improve competitiveness in the country.  The project, announced on May 1st, aims to support the GOU in strengthening the capacity to generate, transfer, and adapt knowledge and new technologies.  The loan will be used to strengthen the National Innovation System and the transfer of technology and innovation to the private sector.  The funds will also be invested in training and scientific education as well as in promoting the exchange between researchers in universities and businesses.

 

Source – SciDevhttp://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3610&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Latin Americato Increase Research & Development Funds

 

MAY 03, 2007 – To increase resources for R&D in Ibero-America was one of the main agreements reached between Latin American and European representatives in Uruguay.  This conclusion is part of the Punta del Este Declaration, a commitment made between the delegations from 17 countries in Latin America and Europe, which met in the VI Conference of the Ibero-American Union for Science, Technology, and Business.  The declaration also announced the creation of a “School of the Americas in Madrid,” an initiative to create more opportunities for Latin Americans to receive a Doctorate degree in Spain.

 

Source – SciDevhttp://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=1&item=News&itemid=3595&language=2&CFID=8415648&CFTOKEN=28813030

 

Urban Waste & Pollution

Chile: Santiago Faces Worst Smog Levels In Eight Years

MAY 14, 2007 - Santiago residents faced this year’s first environmental “pre-emergency” situation, as air contamination reached its highest level since 1999.  On May 12, the Particle Quality Index (ICAP) hit 409, well above the 300 that is required for the government to declare a pre-emergency.  While levels had returned to normal the next day, environmentalists are concerned.   One of the most recent measures taken to combat air contamination in the capital was the public transport overhaul, the Transantiago. Before the system’s inauguration, government officials promised that contamination would be reduced by 75 percent under the Transantiago, and that states of alert and pre-emergency would become a thing of the past. It seems, however, that this is not the case.  Although this is the first pre-emergency this year, smog levels tend to rise during the coldest months of June and July, and more alerts are expected.

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

 

Chile: Transantiago Continues To Bedevil Bachelet Administration

 

MAY 17, 2007 - Santiago's troubled urban transportation system continues to generate difficulties for the Bachelet government.  Recent protests (some violent), negative media coverage, and recriminations from all points of the Chilean political spectrum underscore Transantiago's daily turmoil.  This week, repeated breakdowns at some Metro stations stranded users at peak hours, highlighting the problems that have plagued Transantiago since its inauguration last February.  President Bachelet herself has admitted that there is no Plan B for Transantiago.  With winter rains approaching, conditions for transit users will worsen.  May 16 press reports indicate that an "agitated Bachelet" lashed out at the system's private operators for repeated failures to meet their contract commitments.  She railed against the opposition for stirring up citizen fears of further social protests and for "utilizing the distressed sentiments" of transit riders.

 

Source – SANTIAGO 813

 

Closing Landfills Far Easier Than Opening Them for Buenos Aires

 

MAY 2007 - As greater Buenos Aires continues to generate its usual 13,750 tons of trash a day, concern is mounting that a large portion of the waste soon might not have anywhere to go.  Currently, solid waste from metropolitan Buenos Aires is disposed of in three landfills.   But officials have announced that two of these will close by the end of this year due to concern they are causing pollution problems for nearby residents.  The opposition has reached such a high level of intensity that the Buenos Aires provincial legislature recently decided to postpone decisions on future landfill sites until after presidential and gubernatorial elections are held in October.

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

Climate Change

Climate Change-Brazil: Once and Future Environmental Leader?

 

May 21, 2007 -Brazilappears to be about to pass over a prime opportunity to affirm itself as a leading environmental power in negotiations to bring the threat of global warming under control, according to environmentalists and analysts.  Crowned with the dubious honor of being one of the five countries that produce the most greenhouse gases, Brazil is unique in that three-quarters of its emissions of these gases are due to deforestation.  A drastic reduction in deforestation could be achieved simply by enforcing what is already official policy: that is, stemming the advance of agricultural and mining activities as they illegally encroach on the Amazon rainforest.  But the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is refusing to commit to specific emission reduction targets, which so far are compulsory for only 35 industrialized countries.  Brazil first wants to consolidate the principle of "common but differentiated responsibility" mentioned in the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets legally binding targets only on industrialized countries, which bear the greater responsibility for the greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere. What Brazil lacks today is creative negotiators, independent from the Foreign Ministry, such as it had in the 1990s, so that the country can once again assume a leadership role on environmental issues, Mark Lutes, an expert with the Brazilian non-governmental organization Vitae Civilis said.

 

Source – IPShttp://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37827

 

Energy

BrazilEnvironment Minister Attacks Nuclear Option

 

May 10, 2007-Brazil's environment minister attacked proposals for new nuclear power plants a week after the president said he would push for more reactors if enough hydroelectric plants cannot be built.  Brazil now has two nuclear reactors near the coastal resort of Angra, which account for about 3 percent of all power. The long-delayed completion of a third pressurized water reactor at the site is expected to be approved by a government council.  Brazil relies on hydroelectric dams for more than 80 percent of its energy needs.  Environment Minister Marina Silva defended the hydroelectric option as "clean and without risk" but said that environmental concerns should always be taken into account when authorizing new dam projects.  "The ministry is against nuclear energy. We have a clean energy matrix, an advantage that no other country has," said Silva, a former activist in the Amazon rain forest. "Nuclear energy has a serious problem that is waste disposal."  She advocates the use of hydroelectric, wind and biomass energy sources.

 

Source – Alertnethttp://mobile.alertnet.org

 

Will Colombia’s Biofuel Push Spur Deforestation?

 

MAY 2007 - Though just two years old, the [biofuel] industry has five distilleries in Colombia’s central region, producing a combined one million liters of ethanol daily from sugarcane.  An estimated three million acres (1.2 million has) in additional cropland will be needed over the next 13 years to accommodate the new biofuels industry.  Government officials acknowledge much of the cultivation is likely to take the form of monoculture crops along the environmentally sensitive Pacific coast, as well as on the Atlantic coast and the eastern plains abutting the Orinoco River.  “Under the existing Andean Trade Preference Act of 1991 [which expires in June] and the yet-to-be-ratified free trade agreement signed with the U.S. last November, Colombia pays zero tariffs on biofuel exports to the United States,” says Jorge Cárdenas, board president of the National Federation of Biofuels. “We believe that gives us an excellent opening to the U.S. that could help make us among the top three biofuel producers in Latin America and generate 250,000 new jobs in direct employment.  We also believe we can do that without affecting food production and without cutting down a single tree from the jungle.”  Of all the region’s nations other than Brazil, however, Colombia has been particularly aggressive. Colombian legislation enacted in 2001 requires that ethanol be mixed with all gasoline sold in the country at a concentration of 10% starting in 2009 and 20% beginning in 2020. Meanwhile, biodiesel, which is made here principally from palm oil, must be mixed with diesel at a concentration of 5% starting in 2008 and 20% beginning in 2015.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Braziland Senegal Sign Biofuel Agreement

 

MAY 16, 2007-The presidents of Brazil and Senegal signed an agreement opening the way for the production and use of biofuels in Senegal and in the rest of Africa.  The agreement allows Senegalese technicians to visit Brazil to learn about the production of ethanol from sugar cane, and biodiesel from soybeans or other leguminous plants.  Brazilian technicians will also travel to Senegal to help the workers implement what they learned in Brazil.  "We have abundant, clean and cheap sources of energy," Silva said in a speech. "Under Senegal's leadership, we want to take this initiative to other African nations that do not produce oil." 

 

Source – International Herald Tribunehttp://www.iht.com

 

Chile’s Energy Designs Point to Patagonia

 

MAY 2007 - Environmental pressures are building in Chilean Patagonia, the vast expanse of rivers, lakes, mountains and forests that constitutes one of South America’s—and the world’s—most pristine regions.  Beyond global warming, which is melting Patagonian glaciers, an array of development forces are at work in the region. Salmon farms multiply along the Pacific coast.  New roads connect Chile’s fast-growing economy to the region’s natural resources.  Gold mines are planned along the snow-capped Andes.  And a network of large hydroelectric dams is proposed for thus-far untamed Patagonian rivers.  As development efforts have multiplied, so have conservation campaigns by green groups, local residents, tourism businesses and politicians.  Local officials have approved a regional land-use plan that, if endorsed by national authorities, would bolster protection efforts.  In Patagonia’s Aysén region, which local authorities have officially dubbed a “reserve of life,” plans are afoot for new national parks and a marine conservation area to preserve a breeding ground for the endangered great blue whale.  There’s also a Chilean government proposal to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to designate the region’s parks and protected areas as a World Heritage Site.  But development pressure also is strong, and much of it is coming from the Chilean capital of Santiago.  There, many political and business leaders look to Patagonia in particular to help the country meet rising energy demand.  Fearing power shortages will undermine the economy, they are pushing to use the region’s glacier-fed rivers to generate hydroelectricity.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

ArgentinaConfronts Biofuels Craze

 

MAY 11, 2007 -Argentina's government is hopping on the biofuels bandwagon by offering tax incentives for new initiatives and saying 5 percent of the nation's fuel supply must be biodiesel- or ethanol-based in three years.  Dynamotive, a Canadian biofuels developer, announced plans to invest up to $120 million in six plants in Argentina that would use lumber- and paper-industry waste to make biofuel.  Agricultural companies announced 13 different biodiesel projects in Argentina last year, with investments of $285 million, according to the regional group Abeceb Consultancy.  Investment in the sector is expected to reach $1 billion in Argentina in four years, Abeceb said.

 

Source – Miami Heraldhttp://www.miamiherald.com

 

General

ArgentinaInaugurates Office Dedicated To Prosecuting Environmental Crimes

 

MAY 23, 2007 - Argentina has created its first prosecutorial body dedicated to fighting crimes against the environment.  The establishment of that office, known by its Spanish acronym UFIMA, is the latest in a series of steps taken by Argentina's active environment secretary toward a more vigorous protection of Argentina's environment.  UFIMA's chief plans to begin his efforts with several high profile prosecutions, which he hopes will have a deterrent effect on polluters and others who have never had to fear any legal consequences from their actions.  The creation of such an institution augurs well for Argentina's nascent movement toward a real enforcement regime for environmental law.

 

Source - BUENOS AIR   00001007

 

Millennium Development Goals 'beyond Brazil's reach'

 

APRIL 30, 2007 - Brazil may not achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals because parts of the country bordering the Amazon River are lagging behind, according to a Brazilian nongovernmental organization.  The report, published April 1st by the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment (IMAZON), evaluated progress in states that make up the Amazon basin ― Acre, Amapa, Amazonas, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondonia, Roraima and Tocantins. Brazil's ability to reach the MDGs depends heavily on improvements in these states.  The researchers evaluated progress on 17 indicators relating to 7 of the 8 MDGs between 1990 and 2005.  They found that Amazon states are behind the national average for most indicators, including education, poverty, sanitation, malaria cases, and child and maternal mortality.  Alfredo Homma, soil and crop scientist at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), says one reason for the region's slow progress is low investment in infrastructure, science and technology.  At present, the only goal the researchers believe will be achieved by 2015 is to reduce the mortality rate of under-fives by two-thirds.

 

Source – SciDevhttp://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3586&language=1

 

Bachelet Appoints Chile’s First Environment Minister

 

MAY 2007 - Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has appointed Ana Lya Uriarte, executive director of the National Environment Commission (Conama), as Chile’s first-ever environment minister.  Uriarte’s main task in the short-term will be to design the structure of the new environment ministry, and present that plan for approval to the board of directors of Conama and later to the Congress sometime during 2008.  Uriarte, 44, is a University of Chile-trained attorney.  Before she was appointed director of Conama in 2006 she was the lawyer for the environmental unit of the State Defense Council, Chile’s national prosecutor’s office.  She also has served as the Santiago Metropolitan Health Service’s cabinet chief and legal-services chief, as a human rights lawyer and environmental-law professor at the University of Chile.  In a speech April 26 to business leaders, Uriarte said next year she will send a bill to Chile’s Congress to create an “Environmental Enforcement Superintendency,” asserting that it would improve the competitiveness of Chilean companies.

Source – EcoAmericas

 

Venezuela: Plains Vistas in the Caracas Subway

 

MAY 7, 2007 - The subway in the Venezuelan capital caught its passengers by surprise at the Plaza Venezuela station, with its walls newly covered by gigantic, full-color photographs of the country's plains, teeming with plant and animal life.  "It's an effort to promote identification of the people with the country and with environmental preservation.  We'll be bringing to other stops photos of the plains, the Caribbean, and the Guyana region (southeast) and the Andes of the southwest," subway spokeswoman Nadia Pérez told Tierramérica.  The images were supplied by the environmental group Provita, "with emphasis on showing species that are threatened amidst our natural riches and beauty," said coordinator Jeannette Rojas.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0505/iecobreves.shtml

 

In Bolivia, Some Specifics on Green Policy

 

MAY 2007 - As Bolivian President Evo Morales moves ahead with plans to nationalize the country’s natural resources, his government has begun detailing key environmental ground rules aimed at governing those resources.  The leading case in this regard concerns natural gas, Bolivia’s top export and a crucial underpinning of its economy.   While environmental policies in such sectors as mining and forestry remain works in progress, Susana Rivero, Bolivia’s Minister of Rural Development, Agriculture and Environment, last month announced regulations addressing the environmental and social impacts of gas development.  The new rules spell out how Bolivia will fulfill its responsibility under a 2005 Hydrocarbons Law provision requiring that indigenous communities be consulted about gas projects affecting their land.  Rivero also has issued a plan for “social-environmental monitoring” of gas projects. Many green groups are optimistic that greater state involvement in extractive industries will mean improved environmental protection.  Some, though, worry nationalization might be a double-edged sword.  “Nationalization does not necessarily mean the environment will be better protected,” says Roger Landivar, director of the Bolivia office for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Argentina: Mining Project Plays Role in Governor’s fall

 

MAY 2007 - The announcement of large mining projects and the formation of local opposition have become common in Argentina, as multinational mining companies have scrambled to tap this country’s vast mineral wealth and grassroots groups have formed to block them.  But in La Rioja province, the process has played out with a twist.  What began as an environmental dispute over the planned reopening of a long-abandoned gold mine morphed into a political scandal that became a factor in the removal from office in April of the northwestern province’s governor, Ángel Maza.  At the center of the scandal is La Mejicana, a former gold mine located in the Famatina mountain range, 15,000 feet (4,600 meters) above sea level.  Opened in the early 1900s and featuring a 21-mile (34-km) aerial tram to transport the ore, the mine was abandoned in the 20s.  But in 2005, it became the target of renewed exploration by Barrick Gold, the Canadian mining giant.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (Please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

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