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Civil Society to Peruvian Government: “Maintain Environment Impact Assessments!”

Civil society in Peru has issued a letter decrying the proposed elimination of key environmental impact assessments on the heels of an announcement by Peru’s newest Minister of Energy and Mines. Read their letter outlining the serious risks of the government and private sector’s proposal, here.

The groups and individuals endorsing the letter say that chipping away at environmental protections not only endangers the environment but casts Peru in a poor light as it gears up to host the UNFCCC 20th Council of Parties in December, the world’s key conference for international climate commitments. Peru’s largest indigenous organization, AIDESEP, also issued a statement (see below), calling on the government to maintain current assessment procedures.

On March 6, Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines announced it would eliminate environmental impact assessment requirements for oil and gas companies conducting seismic testing in new extraction areas. Civil society groups in Peru believe this move aims to weaken environmental standards and if implemented would significantly reduce Peru’s ability to effectively prevent environmental harm.

An article published in the Guardian reveals that 28 oil and gas concessions in the biodiverse Peruvian Amazon were in the exploration phase as of November 2013.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines claims that reducing the environmental requirements – weakening the country’s environmental framework - will promote investment in the country, but environmental campaigners point out that key stakeholders such as civil society, indigenous peoples, and academics should be consulted about changes in laws that would affect forests and community lands - such as the proposed elimination of environmental impact assessments. Furthermore, the College of Biologists of Peru has issued a statement (see below) against the proposed move, citing negative impacts to the rights, lives and health of forest dependent peoples and biodiversity resources, should the Ministry of Energy and Mines’ proposal be approved.

The Peruvian Ministry of Environment (MINAM) is the designated entity for the National System of Evaluation of Environmental Impact in the country, and has also issued a statement clarifying that a decision has not yet been taken on the issue. According to Peruvian law, all ministries must consult with MINAM on environmental impacts of proposed regulations, and MINAM must approve any changes to environmental regulations.

Read the civil society letter, here (Spanish): “Exigimos al Estado y al Empresariado Se Respete la Legislación Ambiental y No Se Menoscaben los Instrumentos de Gestión Ambiental y Su Institucionalidad Aduciendo la Necesidad de Atraer Inversiones.”

Read AIDESEP’s statement, here: (English) (Spanish)

Read the College of Biologists of Peru’s Statement, here (Spanish).

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