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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08BRASILIA1572 2008-12-08 18:06 2011-02-06 00:12 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Brasilia
DE RUEHBR #1572/01 3431816
R 081816Z DEC 08
E.O. 12958: N/A 

BRASILIA 00001572 001.2 OF 012 

1. The following is part of 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 XXXX. 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)Argentina: Rice Plantation Plan Goes Against the Grain Forests 

--(4)Paraguay: Uncontacted Indigenous People Threatened by Deforestation 

--(5)Brazil Mob Attacks Environmental Police in Amazon Wildlife 

--(6)Venezuela: Hunting Pushes Bird to extinction Protected Areas 

--(7)The Nature Conservancy to Target Argentine Grasslands 

--(8)Petrobras Drops Plans to Drill in Yasuni Park in Ecuador Science & Technology 

--(9)Brazil Goes High-Tech in Bid to Protect Vulnerable Amazon Tribes Pollution 

--(10)Diesel Vehicle, Fuels Accord Struck In Brazil 

--(11)Argentina: Mandatory Environmental Insurance on Way 

--(12)Peru's New Ministry Unveils Air Standards 

--(13)No Let-Up in Battle over Ecuador's Oilfield Pollution Climate Change 

--(14)Three U.S. States Partner with Six Other Foreign States to combat deforestation 

--(15)Climate-Policy Changes Awaited From Obama 

--(16)Argentina: Cattle Gas Emissions Account for 30% of GHG Emissions, Says Study Energy 

--(17)Brazil to Build 5 New Hydroelectric Plants in the Amazon 

--(18)Chile's Codelco Withdraws Thermoelectric Project 

--(19)Chile Bets on Rapeseed to Produce Biodiesel 

--(20)Huge Coal Plant Approved in Chile's Region VII 

--(21)Brazil Needs to Find Long-Term Solution to Nuclear Waste 

--(22)After Trip To Russia, Chvez Charts Nuclear Course Infrastructure Development 

--(23)Oil and Gas Projects Proliferate In Western Amazon 

--(24)Controversial Colombian Port Project Is On Extractive Industries 

--(25)World's Biggest Coal Mine Is Slated for Northern Colombia General 

--(26)Decrees Affecting Indigenous Lands Are Overturned In Peru 

--(27)Peru: Free Trade Opens Environmental Window 

BRASILIA 00001572 002.2 OF 012 

--(28)Global Financial Crisis a Bad Sign for Andean Biodiversity 

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

3. Argentina: Rice Plantation Plan Goes Against the Grain OCT. 2008 - A private consortium's plans to build a dam in Argentina's Corrientes Province and flood 20,000 acres (8,000 hectares) as part of a huge commercial rice-farming project have stirred growing opposition. Critics fear the project will contribute to an expansion of intensive, chemical-based agriculture in Corrientes that eventually could encroach upon the Ibera Natural Reserve, a spectacular 5,000-square-mile (13,000-sq-km) network of wetlands that accounts for 15% of Corrientes Province's land area. The reserve, a portion of which is included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, lies 30 miles (50 kms) upstream of the dam site. Fueling more immediate concern are the project's expected local impacts, which would include inundation of an area prized for its grassland, forest and native fauna. Such criticism appears to have struck a chord with some in the national government. Responding this month to a letter of concern from members of the lower house of the National Congress, Argentine Environment Minister Romina Picolotti wrote that she has called on [Corrientes Governor, Arturo] Colombi to discuss the matter with Corrientes environmental officials. Picolotti stated: "This secretariat looks with serious concern at the realization of this type of mega-project, which is likely to generate deep negative impacts on [ecosystems] of incalculable value." Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

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

4. Paraguay: Uncontacted Indigenous People Threatened by Deforestation NOV. 27, 2008- Large swathes of native forest have been turned into pasture land in the northern part of Paraguay's semi-arid Chaco region, as large Brazilian cattle ranchers expand their property in the country. The ranchers and landowning companies are encroaching on the territory of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode Indians, and the destruction of forests is threatening the natural and cultural heritage of the nomadic indigenous group, some of whom still live in voluntary isolation in the forest. "Our situation is very worrisome, because we still have relatives who do not want to be in contact with white society," Porai Picanerai, a leader of the Payipie Ichadie Totobiegosode Organization (OPIT -- New Totobiegosode Thinking), told IPS. The Totobiegosode form part of the larger Ayoreo ethnic group. In early November, there were reports that some uncontacted members of the group had been seen in a deforested area that belongs to Brazilian landowners, on the edge of the indigenous group's protected territory. Until December 1986, Picanerai was living in the bush in the northern department (province) of Alto Paraguay, which is part of the Chaco region -- a vast area of dense, scrubby forest that covers western Paraguay and parts of Bolivia and Argentina. Source - IPS News 

5. Brazil Mob Attacks Environmental Police in Amazon NOV. 25, 2008 - A mob of about 3,000 people enraged by a crackdown on illegal logging trashed a government office in a remote jungle 

BRASILIA 00001572 003.2 OF 012 

city of Brazil and tried to attack environmental workers, according to press reports. Environment Minister Carlos Minc sent federal police to the northeastern town of Paragominas following the riot, which was prompted by the seizure of 400 cubic meters (14,124 cubic feet) of wood believed to have been cut inside an Indian reservation. Many residents of the Amazon deeply resent - and sometimes attack - environmental officials who try to block logging that provides income for rich and poor alike. Paragominas is about 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the small city of Tailandia, where a mob of 2,000 rioted over wood seizures in February, forcing environmental authorities to leave the city for days. Minc said the new riot would not stop efforts to control illegal logging: "To the contrary, we're going to intensify operations and we'll punish those who are responsible". Source - Miami Herald 

-------- Wildlife -------- 

6. Venezuela: Hunting Pushes Bird to extinction NOV. 24, 2008.- The scarlet finch, also known as the red siskin (Carduelis cucullata), a small bird native to northern Venezuela, is on the verge of disappearing and is rarely seen in the wild because poachers capture these birds to cross them with canaries in order to produce red offspring. The hybrid "is red like the finch and sings like a canary, which is why hunters capture the few that are left in order to sell them to people who raise canaries. It is an illegal but very profitable practice," researcher Jon Paul Rodriguez, co-author of the Red Book of Venezuelan Fauna, told Tierramerica. Of the 3,625 species evaluated in that book, 202 are threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat, hunting, pollution, changes in population dynamic, invasive species, human activities or natural disasters. Source - Tierramerica 

--------------- Protected Areas --------------- 

7. The Nature Conservancy to Target Argentine Grasslands NOV. 2008 - The Nature Conservancy's new Argentina office was opened in the southern Andean tourism city of Bariloche. The group plans to work with ranchers and research institutions to promote sustainable livestock operations in the region. The Nature Conservancy also aims to push for the creation of new protected areas on public and private lands. Temperate grasslands, which harbor biodiversity, store carbon and help stave off desertification. Such grasslands have come under pressure in Argentina for reasons ranging from the spread of monoculture farming to unsustainable ranching. Though Uruguay and Brazil possess significant amounts of temperate grassland, Argentina has the greatest expanse of the habitat, which The Nature Conservancy describes as among the least protected in the world (less than 2.9% of the 395 million acres are protected). Source - EcoAmericas 

8. Petrobras Drops Plans to Drill in Yasuni Park in Ecuador OCT. 2008 - The state-owned Brazilian oil company Petrobras is giving up a drilling concession area that had become highly controversial because nearly three-quarters of it is located in a prized national park in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The action, however, owes as much to economics as environmental opposition, analysts say, leaving open the possibility that oil exploration might still be 

BRASILIA 00001572 004.2 OF 012 

carried out elsewhere within the 497,917-acre (201,500-ha) concession area. Under an agreement negotiated with the Ecuadorian government last month, Petrobras is relinquishing its rights to the area, called Bloc 31, all but 28% of which lies within the borders of Yasuni National Park. Petrobras acquired the concession from the Argentine company Perez Companc in 2002, which ostensibly gave it a 22-year period in which to carry out oil exploration and production in Bloc 31. Environmental advocates applaud the company's about-face, though they emphasize that the government of President Rafael Correa must now ensure the land remains protected. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

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

9. Brazil Goes High-Tech in Bid to Protect Vulnerable Amazon Tribes DEC. 02, 2008 - The Brazilian government's National Indian Foundation (Funai) recently said it would conduct flyovers in Amazonia, where it suspects Indians might be in danger from encroaching farmers, loggers and miners. Military planes flying at high altitude will use radar, satellite, and infrared technology that can identify humans and their communities through their body heat, Funai and military officials said. If pilot programs scheduled for next year are successful, the high-tech equipment could prove an indispensable weapon in protecting vulnerable tribes. "This is one of the tools to help us find and confirm the existence of isolated Indians," says Antenor Vaz, coordinator of the isolated Indians division at Funai and an experienced Amazonian explorer. "It will let us know where they are and what kind of environment they are in. We can determine if they are in danger; if there are ranchers or miners close to them." The heat-sensitive technology will be used on three planes that can fly at altitudes up to 36,000 feet, says Wougran Galvao, the product director at Sipam, the government's Amazonian monitoring agency. Such technology has already been used successfully in conjunction with satellite and radar imagery. But the upcoming tests will mark the first time it has been tapped to find humans. Source - Yahoo 

--------- Pollution --------- 

10. Diesel Vehicle, Fuels Accord Struck In Brazil NOV. 2008 - After intense legal infighting, Brazil has unveiled a schedule for cutting sulfur concentrations in diesel fuels and introducing lower-emission diesel buses and trucks. Environmentalists complain that the complex, six-year phase-in of lower-sulfur fuels is too gradual, unduly compromising air quality and public health. But officials who negotiated the deal with the state oil company Petrobras, vehicle manufacturers, and other stakeholders stand by the accord. "With the agreement in place, pollution levels will drop, especially in metropolitan areas, even if not as quickly as we and others would have liked," says Sco Paulo federal prosecutor Ana Cristina Bandeira Lins. "Given the situation, we got the best deal we could." Under the deal, Petrobras will lower the sulfur content in the two diesel fuels sold in Brazil-S-2000, in which sulfur measures 2,000 parts per million (ppm), and S-500, in which sulfur levels are 500 ppm. S-500, which accounts for 25% of diesel sold, is available in Brazil's 14 biggest cities, where air pollution is worst. S-2000 is available in 

BRASILIA 00001572 005.2 OF 012 

virtually all other areas of Brazil, accounting for 75% of diesel sold. Diesel is only used by trucks and buses in Brazil; by law, ethanol and gasoline are the only fuels allowed for passenger cars. Due to distribution bottlenecks cited by Petrobras, the sulfur-fuels agreement only applies to buses in the case of existing vehicles-except in three northern cities, where it also covers existing trucks. NOTE FROM HUB: Santiago current standards are 50ppm; target is to reach 10ppm by 2012 in Santiago and 50ppm in the countryside. FYI - US current standard is 15ppm. END NOTE. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

11. Argentina: Mandatory Environmental Insurance on Way NOV. 2008 - Argentina is preparing to require that companies involved in pollution-prone activities take out insurance to cover potential environmental restoration costs-the first time a country has made such coverage mandatory, Argentine authorities say. Legislation establishing the requirement was approved by the Argentine Congress in 2002, but never took effect. However, Argentine officials say implementation is near as a result of factors including the Argentine Supreme Court debate on the issue rule-making by the Environment Secretariat, and the emergence of environmental insurance in the private market. "Though environmental insurance is very well developed in Europe and the United States and, within Latin America, in Chile..., nowhere has it been mandatory," says Mariana Valls, head of the environmental regulations division of Argentina's Environment Secretariat. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

12. Peru's New Ministry Unveils Air Standards OCT. 2008 - In one of its first major initiatives, Peru's newly created Environment Ministry has launched an effort to improve air quality in the country's major cities by drafting new standards for airborne concentrations of sulfur dioxide, particulates, benzene, hydrocarbons and hydrogen sulfide. Ministry officials say the new standards would require upgrading vehicles, lowering the sulfur content of diesel fuel and making industries more efficient. The new standards, which generally follow World Health Organization guidelines, will tighten allowable levels of some pollutants in two phases. The maximum allowable average of sulfur dioxide in a 24-hour period will be lowered from the current level of 365 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 80 micrograms as of Jan. 1, 2009, and to 20 micrograms as of Jan. 1, 2014. The 24-hour maximum for fine particulates (PM2.5) will have to drop from the current 65 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 50 micrograms by Jan. 1, 2010, and 25 micrograms by Jan. 1. 2014. But some experts worry the measures may set the bar too high too quickly. Peru's deadline for lowering sulfur levels in its two classes of diesel fuel from 3,000 parts per million (ppm) and 5,000 ppm, respectively, to 50 ppm was pushed back to the end of 2009. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

13. No Let-Up in Battle over Ecuador's Oilfield Pollution OCT. 2008 - Long-running litigation pitting rainforest Indians against Chevron might run a whole lot longer-at least three more years if the eventual ruling is appealed, say attorneys from the two sides involved in the case. That's not entirely surprising. With potential liability recently estimated at US$16 billion ad with copious technical evidence filed, the courtroom fight over oil-industry impacts on the Ecuadorian Amazon from 1972 to 1992 has 

BRASILIA 00001572 006.2 OF 012 

reached a scale and intensity never before experienced by this country's justice system. In the latest clash, attorneys from both sides filed their respective critiques of a court-appointed investigator's report that pegged health and environmental costs of the contamination at US$8.02 billion. The report, by investigator Richard Cabrera, also alleged that the oil operations at issue generated "unfair earnings" of US$8.31 billion for Texpet, a Texaco subsidiary and the operating partner of the two-company consortium that did the drilling. Chevron is the defendant by virtue of its acquisition of Texaco in 2001. The critiques of Cabrera's report were filed in Superior Court in the Amazon town of Nueva Loja, where the case is being heard, but other fronts in the oil-pollution battle have been active as well. In New York, a federal appeals court on Oct. 7 blocked an effort by Chevron to shift liability for the environmental damage at issue in the case onto the Ecuadorian government. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article). 

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

14. Three U.S. States Partner with Six Other Foreign States to combat deforestation NOV. 19, 2008 - Governors from the U.S. states of California, Wisconsin and Illinois signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with six governors from Brazil and Indonesia on November 18 to reduce forestry-related greenhouse gas emissions. The MOU was signed at the two-day Governors' Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles. "With this agreement, we are focusing our collective efforts on the problem and requiring our states to jointly develop rules, incentives and tools to ensure reduced emission from deforestation and land degradation. We are also sending a strong message that this issue should be front and center during negotiations for the next global agreement on climate change," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The agreement commits California, Illinois and Wisconsin to work with the governors of six states and provinces in Brazil and Indonesia to help slow and stop tropical deforestation, the cutting and burning of trees to convert land to grow crops and raise livestock, and land degradation through joint projects and incentive programs. Under the agreement, the signatories will develop a joint action plan by early 2009. Source - English People 

15. Climate-Policy Changes Awaited From Obama NOV. 2008 - Barack Obama's election as president of the United States has sparked optimism that U.S. climate policy will change dramatically, engaging the world and making developing regions such as Latin America part of the solution. Obama has called for a cap and trade system to reduce emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. He also has pledged that the United States will "re-engage" in international climate negotiations, stipulating that those talks must also include high-emission developing countries, such as China and Brazil. He "sees this as an opportunity to rebuild American credibility in the international sphere, but also sees that approaching global warming requires solutions, and engaging more constructively in that process helps deliver a much better solution," says Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading U.S. green group based in Washington, D.C. Even some of the CDM's boosters see flaws in the process. Among them is Mary Gomez, director of the Latin America carbon program for the Andean 

BRASILIA 00001572 007.2 OF 012 

Development Corporation, a development agency linked to the Andean Community, which has about 30 projects at various stages in the CDM pipeline. Gomez says the system is hampered by the sluggishness of an approval process that can take up to two years. If measures are not taken to expedite approval, she says, "the system will collapse." Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

16. Argentina: Gas Emitted by Cattle Account for 30% of GHG Emissions, Says Study OCT. 2008 - Just how prominently cattle figure in the climate-change picture has become the subject of intensive study in Argentina, home to some 55 million cattle. Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology (Inta) recently rigged cows with tubes leading from a surgical incision in their stomachs to a tank strapped to their backs in order to estimate with some precision how much greenhouse gas the animals produce. The device measures gas that normally is emitted through burps as the cows, which in Argentina are typically range-fed, digest grass. Inta researchers themselves were astonished to find that on a daily basis, a 550-kilo cow produced from 800 to 1,000 liters of gas, approximately 30% of which was methane. Extrapolating, the scientists calculate that cattle are responsible for 30% of Argentina's greenhouse-gas output, according to Inta's Guillermo Berra, a veterinarian by profession who for a decade has been responsible for assessing the greenhouse emissions of Argentina's agricultural sector. Berra estimates that the country's farm sector overall accounts for roughly half of Argentina's total greenhouse emissions. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

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

17. Brazil to Build 5 New Hydroelectric Plants in the Amazon NOV. 20, 2008 - The president of Brazilian electric energy company Eletrobras, Jose Antonio Muniz, announced in Rio de Janeiro on November 19, at the 22nd Brazilian Energy Congress, that the holding company is looking to build five new hydroelectric plants in the Tapajos River, which crosses the northern states of Amazonas and Para. The enterprises will have a total production capacity of 10,680 megawatts (MW) of energy, and the projects should be tendered by mid-2010. According to Eletrobras, construction of the units is part of a sustainable energy project, and will be integrated with the northern Brazilian communities. To further connect Brazil's north region, Eletrobras is also contemplating the installation of transmission lines by means of the so-called "Linhao" (Big Line), to the National Interconnected System (SIN). Muniz explained that the goal of Eletrobras is to build the new units under the concept known as "platform-plant" - a model proposed by the Brazilian minister of Environment, Carlos Minc. The concept means the plant will be installed without the traditional infrastructure, such as roads and construction sites with barracks, which attract a large number of people to the area surrounding the site. Source - Brazzilmag 

18. Chile's Codelco Withdraws Thermoelectric Project NOV. 19, 2008 - Just hours before the Chilean Regional Environmental Commission (COREMA) convened to review Codelco's Farellones thermoelectric project set for northern Chile's Coquimbo region, the state-owned copper company decided to withdraw the project from consideration. The project director, Rodrigo Jorquera, claims the 

BRASILIA 00001572 008.2 OF 012 

withdrawal would give more time to study the project and its impacts. But others speculated Codelco acted strategically. If COREMA had rejected the plan, due mainly to toxic emissions in the area, the project would not have another chance to pass environmental reviews, and Codelco would have lost millions of dollars. Codelco has been facing other problems lately due to the falling price of copper, which constitutes the majority of the company business. These economic setbacks may also have played a part in the company's decision, say economists. Source - Santiago Times (no link) 

19. Chile Bets on Rapeseed to Produce Biodiesel NOV. 13, 2008 - The Chemical and Mechanical Engineering Department of Chile's Universidad de la Frontera (UFRO), along with agriculture company Molino Gorbea and oil company COPEC, are suggesting the use of rapeseed - an oleaginous plant that is produced in southern Chile's Bio Bio and Los Lagos Regions - as a base for Chilean biodiesel production. Robinson Betancourt, UFRO academic and director of the biodiesel project, explained that the objective of producing rapeseed-based biodiesel is to provide an additional fuel supply in response to national demand. "The objective is to supply Chile with 5 percent of various types of biofuels in regards to total fuel consumption," he said. The scientists from the UFRO are already producing 200 liters of biodiesel per day in one of Molino Gorbea's plants - with the aid of a government grant - and are working on improving the quality of the product to meet national and European criteria. The objective is to market the product in the coming two years. Source - Santiago Times (no link) 

20. Huge Coal Plant Approved in Chile's Region VII NOV. 04, 2008 - Despite vocal opposition by area residents, Chilean environmental authorities have decided to approve plans by U.S.-owned energy company AES Gener to construct a huge coal-burning electricity plant along the coast in Region VII between Constitucion and Chanco. The so-called Los Robles project is expected to cost AES Gener approximately US$1.3 billion. Once in operation, the plant will add some 750 mega-watts to Chile's central grid, making it one of the largest electricity facilities in the country. An opposition group, which collected more than 10,000 signatures against the Los Robles plant, insists the project will hurt the region's budding tourism industry, harm the local agriculture and fishing industries and jeopardize the health of area residents. Source - Santiago Times (no link) 

21. Brazil Needs to Find Long-Term Solution to Nuclear Waste OCT. 2008 - Ever since Brazil's National Energy Policy Council in June 2007 endorsed plans for Angra 3, the country's third nuclear plant, the project has seemed a forgone conclusion. Officials view the 1,400-megawatt, R$7.2 billion (US$4.5 billion) reactor as a means of avoiding future energy shortages. They also feel Angra 3 will help maintain diversification in a power grid dominated by hydroelectricity. If the plant starts up as planned in 2014, nuclear power will continue to account for 2% of the energy Brazil produces as new hydropower facilities come on line. Given the official support, it came as no surprise last month when Angra 3 cleared its last big bureaucratic hurdle by receiving a preliminary license from IBAMA, the Environment Ministry's permitting arm. The project still must obtain a construction license and, ultimately, an operating license from IBAMA. These are usually pro-forma permits, linked to certain government conditions. One requirement in this case, however, could constitute a roadblock for the project unless the government removes it. Under the requirement, imposed by the 

BRASILIA 00001572 009.2 OF 012 

Environment Ministry, the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN), Brazil's nuclear regulatory agency, must present IBAMA with a plan for the long-term disposal of high-level radioactive waste before Angra 3 is put into service. Currently, spent fuel rods from the two reactors are stored in indoor, on-site pools. Eletronuclear, the state company that runs Angra 1 and Angra 2 and will build and operate Angra 3, argues the high-level-waste requirement is neither feasible nor necessary now. It points out that not even nations with the largest nuclear-power programs have developed permanent disposal sites for high-level waste. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

22. After Trip To Russia, Chvez Charts Nuclear Course OCT. 2008 - Following a two-day visit to Russia to sign energy agreements, Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez said his country is ready to develop nuclear power-a prospect that troubles military and environmental experts. Speaking at a political rally in Caracas on Sept. 28, Chvez said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had offered to help Venezuela build a nuclear reactor. "We certainly are interested in developing nuclear energy, for peaceful ends of course-for medical purposes and to generate electricity," Chvez said. "Brazil has various nuclear reactors, as does Argentina. We will have ours as well." Venezuela has sought assistance in developing nuclear energy technology from both Iran and Argentina in the past in an effort to show it is a "green country" that is serious about replacing greenhouse-gas-producing fossil fuels. The announcement that it would delve into nuclear technology with Russian assistance raises hackles among some experts who say the move will worsen U.S.-Venezuelan relations and pose new risks of nuclear proliferation. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

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

23. Oil and Gas Projects Proliferate In Western Amazon NOV. 2008 - Dozens of new oil and gas concessions have cropped up in recent years in the Amazon's most biodiverse and pristine regions, propelled by strong world oil prices and the discovery of large oil and gas reserves. A recent study shows state and multinational companies now hold more than 180 oil and gas blocks covering 680,000 square kilometers (170 million acres) in the western Amazon. The new concessions, most of them granted since 2004 in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and western Brazil, could threaten hundreds of species of birds, primates and amphibians as well as numerous isolated Indian tribes, according to a study by Duke University and the U.S.-based non-governmental groups Save America's Forests and Land is Life. Many of the concessions overlap with national parks and existing or proposed Indian reserves, the study says. The study, entitled "Oil and Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, and Indigenous Peoples," was published Aug. 13 in the online scientific journal Plos One. It warns of devastating impacts if the hydrocarbon projects are not environmentally well-managed and Indian rights not respected. The western Amazon is one of the most species-rich regions in the world in amphibians, birds and animals, and has nearly as many tree species per hectare (up to 600) as the entire United States. It also is home to over a dozen Indian tribes that live in what is known as "voluntary isolation." 

BRASILIA 00001572 010.2 OF 012 

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

24. Controversial Colombian Port Project Is On NOV. 2008 - For nearly 10 years, Indians and environmental activists have sought to stop construction of a multi-purpose port on the ecologically rich and fragile coast of Dibulla, an impoverished Colombian municipality on the Caribbean. They have sent hundreds of protestors to the project site, petitioned environmental authorities and filed suit. But despite those efforts and a two-year suspension of the project ordered by environmental authorities, construction of the US$13 million Brisa Multipurpose Port resumed in late September in Dibulla, which lies at the foot of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the world's highest coastal range. The Brisa Port is being carved out of an area of dry forest interspersed with numerous wetlands and mangrove swamps that harbor migratory birds and species including the vulnerable American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). Executives at Brisa, the private company which began building the port in 2006, argue that the facility-combined with an accompanying steel and iron complex, cement factory and duty-free zone-will generate 3,500 direct jobs and 15,000 indirect ones in construction and operation. They also say the deepwater harbor where the port is being built will allow Brisa to manage exports of nearly four million tons annually of limestone, coal and other raw materials, and permit a massive ramping up of production in Colombia's steel and iron industry. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article) 

--------------------- Extractive Industries --------------------- 

25. World's Biggest Coal Mine Is Slated for Northern Colombia NOV. 2008 - Drummond Coal will soon begin construction of a new 100,000-acre (40,000-ha) coal mne in northeastern Colombia whi