Around the Region

Ecuadorian officials claim oil spill did not harm sea turtles

Cleanup efforts have concluded following the July 19 spill of 1,200 barrels of crude at an Ecuadorian oil-export terminal at Port Balao, some 50 miles south of the Colombian border, with officials claiming no significant damage to marine species. Oil released in the spill, which occurred at a terminal operated by the state-owned Petroecuador oil company, reached the sea and affected some four kilometers (2.5 miles) of nearby Las Palmas Beach, a sea turtle nesting site. Authorities have not explained the cause of the spill, but local sources report the accident occurred on land and appears to have been due to human error or inadequate facility maintenance. Ecuadorian Minister of Energy and Mines Fernando Santos says the oil that reached the sea was treated with eco-friendly dispersants. For his part, Petroecuador’s operations manager, Ramón Correa, says that over 90% of the crude released on land has been...

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Texas river barrier raises environmental questions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has strung a 1,000-foot long (305-meter) barrier of linked buoys down the middle of a portion of the Rio Grande to prevent migrants from trying to cross into the United States. But activists and environmental experts warn that the line of buoys could alter the river’s flow, lead to flooding, and possibly damage infrastructure downstream. The buoys were installed in July along a stretch of river that serves as the border between Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, without the required approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The U.S. government responded by suing Texas July 24, seeking a federal court order to remove the barrier on the grounds that it creates an unauthorized obstruction in a navigable waterway. “The Corps and other relevant federal agencies were deprived of the opportunity to evaluate risks the barrier poses...

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Biodiversity-agency bill clears Chilean Congress

It took 13 years and a strong push by current Chilean President Gabriel Boric, but Chile’s Congress has finally approved the creation of a national Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service (SBAP) to address the country’s growing problem of species loss. Part of a so-called Law of Nature bill that won passage in June, the plan for the agency gained strong support across the political spectrum, with the legislation clearing its final hurdle in a 131 to 2 vote in the lower house of Congress. “The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service will address the serious crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change that is affecting Chile, and the entire world,” said Chilean Environment Minister Maisa Rojas, who has served as Boric’s lead environmental official since his administration took office on March 11, 2022. (See "Maisa Rojas says Chile must...

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