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Still on Chile, remember that giant hydroelectric project in Chile that we told about in a previous issue? It poses a big threat to fishing in that part of the world, not to mention the environment in general? Well, the government appears to have pulled the plug on the project. We have that from occasional correspondent and good friend, Rex Bryngelson, who owns a lodge in that part of the world, La Posada de los Farios, (www.chilepatagonia.com) He writes:
“The controversial HidroAysén dam project in Chilean Patagonia was dealt a huge blow recently when a committee of government ministers unanimously ruled to revoke the environmental approval the project had been granted by the former administration back in 2011. The ministers cited a ‘complete lack’ of any of plan for the relocation of displaced communities affected by the flooding as the principal reason for the revocation.
“The HidroAysén project contemplates the construction of five massive dams on the Rio Baker and Rio Pascua, Patagonia’s two largest rivers, along with the construction of a 2,000-mile power line to transport the energy to Santiago and on to mining projects farther to the north. The companies behind HidroAysén were highly criticized for treating the dams and the accompanying power line as two separate projects, first seeking environmental approval for construction of the dams while conveniently ignoring the much larger environmental effects of constructing what would be among the world’s longest power lines.
“Following the 2011 ruling that approved the dam portion of the project, massive protests broke out across the country. Polls later indicated that more than 60 percent of the country’s citizens were opposed to the project, much of that opposition attributed to a very effective public relations effort put forth by the highly organized Patagonia Sin Represas movement. Michelle Bachelet, the recently reelected left-leaning president of Chile, has thus followed through on her recent campaign promise to put a damper on the project.
“It should be noted that an appeals process still remains, and the companies behind HidroAysén have vowed to continue moving forward despite this most recent setback. Nevertheless, it remains clear the project will receive very little support from Chile’s present administration.”
Don Causey Note: We asked Rex to keep us posted on this project. We’ll pass along what he sends us. You can keep up with developments on your own by going to the International Rivers website at: www.internationalrivers.org.