Friday, April 16, 2010

Amazon environmentalists win bid to stall dam project

The Face of the Enemy. It will take great skill and courage to fight the emotionalists with reason.
Environmentalists aided by Avatar director James Cameron are celebrating after a judge suspended bidding on construction and operation of an Amazon dam.
Film-maker James Cameron embraces a Brazilian Amazon native during a visit to several communities along the Xingu river Photo: EPA
Whats that on Cameron's face?

The ruling also resulted in the suspension of the hydroelectric project's environmental license.
The administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is vowing to appeal, however. Brazil, with government reserves of $240 billion (£155 billion), has such a booming economy that it no longer needs money from abroad to build the $11 billion (£7 billion) Belo Monte dam.
Environmental groups and Amazon Indians "are incredibly energised by this decision and have renewed hope, although no one is naive," said Atossa Soltani, executive director of Amazon Watch. "Everyone recognises that in Brazil a decision like this could be overturned quickly, and that we haven't won the battle yet."

Increasing international condemnation won't reverse Brazilian policy-makers' view that the dam is essential to provide a huge injection of renewable energy, said Christopher Garman, director of Latin American analysis at the Eurasia Group in Washington.
"This dam is going to happen. It's just a matter of when it happens," Mr Garman said.
Brazil has a fragile energy grid that was hit last year by a blackout that darkened much of the nation. Belo Monte would supply six per cent of the country's electricity needs by 2014, the same year Brazil will host soccer's World Cup and just two years before Rio holds the 2016 Olympics.
Ms Soltani disagreed that the construction of the 11,000-megawatt dam is inevitable, saying Cameron's involvement was a major advance and attracted attention that could "create pressure on the (Silva) administration and on the Brazilian public, and hopefully will encourage the Brazilian public to take a stand."
Neither Silva nor top administration officials commented on Wednesday night's court ruling, but the president made it clear just before the decision was made public that he believes the dam is necessary to meet skyrocketing electricity demand in the nation of more than 190 million. He also took on the project's critics, both domestic and foreign. Read more.

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