Following the suspension of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff last week—in what some called a coup by conservative opponents—her supporters warned that the interim government, led by Vice President Michel Temer, may use the opportunity to push through neoliberal legislation.
According to the advocacy group the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers (ALERT), they were right.
The Brazilian Committee of the Constitution, Justice, and Citizenship on April 27 “quietly” passed an amendment known as PEC 65, which would ban any public works project from being cancelled or suspended, as long as the contractor has submitted an environmental impact study. Amid the political uproar, the measure is now poised to pass.
“Such environmental impact studies have been heavily criticized for often being ‘quick and dirty’ assessments that fail to consider many indirect impacts of projects or the full range of environmental and social damage they will cause,” said ALERT director William Laurance, of James Cook University in Australia, who has conducted environmental research in the Brazilian Amazon for 20 years.
Amazon expert and ALERT member Thomas Lovejoy said Monday, “This is a true test for President Temer and his new government: either veto PEC 65 or go down in history as the government that allowed the Amazon system to fall apart.”
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As Amazon Watch explained at the time:
The legislation must be ratified by the Brazilian congress to pass into law. Although environmental activists are organizing an 11th-hour effort to convince lawmakers to vote against the bill, ALERT says the issue may be lost amid the noise of the country’s ongoing political crisis, as Rousseff awaits an impeachment trial and a new administration takes over her duties.
Others issued similar warnings earlier this month. Carlos Bocuhy, the president of environmental nongovernment organization PROAM, told the Climate News Network that the bill was “completely absurd.”
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