Around the Region

Oil project said to ignore Bolivia’s new constitution

Tumbling trees, the roar of dynamite, and the flight of birds and animals from a once-virgin forest. For Bolivian Indians opposed to oil drilling, such impacts might have seemed a thing of the past under the country’s new constitution. But while the seven-month-old constitution strengthens Indians’ rights over their lands, the government of President Evo Morales—himself an Aymara Indian—is being accused of strong-arming indigenous Amazon communities and their environment in a rush to find oil. The complaints come as Petroandina, a joint venture of two state oil companies, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPBF), conducts seismic exploration for oil in the so-called Lliquimuni Block in the northern portion of the department of La Paz...

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Brazil ratchets up its emission limits for cars and light trucks

Brazil’s National Environmental Council (Conama) approved a plan this month to tighten emission limits for all new gasoline- and ethanol-fueled cars and vans starting in 2014 and for new diesel-fueled pickup trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles beginning in 2013. The move marks the latest ratcheting-up of light-vehicle emissions limits by Conama, a broad-based body charged with setting nationwide environmental standards and norms, under the national Program for Controlling Vehicular Air Pollution (Proconve). Administered by Ibama, the enforcement arm of Brazil’s Environment Ministry, Proconve was created by Conama in 1986 and modeled on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regimen governing tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulates. The Conama resolution approved this month calls for tailpipe emission...

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Peru launching new office of environmental oversight

Peru’s year-old Environment Ministry now has a new Environmental Monitoring and Oversight Office (Oefa) that will give it “teeth,” according to Environment Minister Antonio Brack. The new office also will bring most oversight responsibilities, currently scattered among some 30 government agencies, under one roof, and has created a telephone and Internet hotline for reporting environmental infractions. By Aug. 25, when Environment Minister Antonio Brack and the head of the office, Walter García, announced the hotline, the office had already received more than 60 complaints. Most were from Lima and the neighboring port city of Callao, and the departments of Ancash, in the central highlands; La Libertad, on the north coast; and Loreto, in Peru’s northeastern Amazon region. Complaints involved areas ranging from factories to...

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