A recent injunction against controversial dam, Belo Monte, in Brazil has been overturned, allowing the first phase of construction to go ahead. The ruling by a higher court argued that not all environmental conditions must be met on the dam in order for construction to start.
Issued on February 25th, the injunction against the dam argued that the partial license granted by Brazil’s environmental agency, IBAMA, was issued illegally. Judge Ronaldo Destêrro found that the license was granted under pressure from the dam’s contractor, Norte Energia.
“Instead of IBAMA being the one to conduct the process,” said Destêrro, “it is [Norte Energia] that—according to its own interests, needs and timeline—is imposing on IBAMA the licensing process for Belo Monte.”
However, not surprisingly to many who follow judicial moves in Brazil, Destêrro’s injunction didn’t last long. According to a press release from environmental organization, the new ruling used a legal maneuver from Brazil’s military dictatorship, allowing decisions to be overturned based on threats to national security.
Environmentalists and indigenous rights-groups alike have opposed the $11-17 billion Belo Monte dam for its anticipated impacts on the region. Diverting the Xingu River for around 62 miles, the dam would flood nearly 200 square miles (500 square kilometers) of rainforest. An estimated 50,000 indigenous people who depend on the river would be impacted, and many forced to move.
Pushed aggressively by Brazil new president, Dilma Rousseff, the administration says the dam must be built to meet the rising nation’s power needs. The dam will provide enough energy to power 23 million homes, yet during three to four months of the year critics say it will run on only 10-30% capacity due to low waters.
Hydropower has been publicized as green, however dams built in the tropics have been shown to release massive amounts of the methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 100 years.
Recently 600,000 people from around the world signed a petition opposing the dam.
Judge suspends Brazil’s monster dam: contractor ‘imposing’ its interests
(02/27/2011) Construction on Brazil’s planned mega-dam, the Belo Monte, has been ordered suspended by a federal judge, citing unmet environmental and social conditions. Just last month, the hugely controversial dam, was handed a partial license from Brazil’s Environmental Agency (IBAMA). However, the judge, Ronaldo Destêrro, found that the partial license, the first of its kind in Brazil, was granted under pressure from the dam’s contractor, Norte Energia or NESA.
Indigenous leaders take fight over Amazon dams to Europe
(03/02/2011) Three indigenous Amazonian leaders spent this week touring Europe to raise awareness about the threat that a number of proposed monster dams pose to their people and the Amazon forest. Culminating in a press conference and protests in London, the international trip hopes to build pressure to stop three current hydroelectric projects, one in Peru, including six dams, and two in Brazil, the Madeira basin industrial complex and the massive Belo Monte dam. The indigenous leaders made the trip with the NGO Rainforest Foundation UK, including support from Amazon Watch, International Rivers, and Rainforest Concern.
Half a million people sign petition against Belo Monte, Brazilian mega-dam
(02/08/2011) In a protest today in Brasilia, Brazil, indigenous people delivered a petition to authorities signed by 500,000 people calling on them to cancel the controversial Belo Monte dam. They hope the petition, organized by online activist group Avaaz, will help convince Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, to cancel the project. However, actions by Brazil’s first female president have pushed the dam forward.