Organizations announce legal actions over approval of dam project in Rio Puelo

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Puelo Patagonia, press release, Nov. 2 - After analyzing in depth the information released by Chile's environment ministry upon their approval of the Mediterraneo hydroelectric project in the Rio Puelo watershed today, organizers of the campaign "Puelo Without Towers" have announced they will pursue legal actions to stop the project.
 
The president of the environmental group Puelo Patagonia, Rodrigo Condeza, explained that although the decision of Chile's government "is a slap in the face to the national interest of moving toward a country that does not sacrifice unique ecosystems and sustainable and local enterprises to promote private businesses harmful to the public interest and our natural heritage, it is clear that our ultimate goal must now be that this nefarious investment never see the light of day. Its environmental approval is a hurdle that we will overcome."
 
Condeza added that "Chile's environmental history is replete with initiatives that initially had the support of some institutions and authorities, and they did not happen. We will work to show that this is a bad project, unnecessary and one that negatively affects one of the most valuable areas of this nation's territory."
 
The lawyer for the citizen organizations filing the lawsuits, Macarena Soler, explained that "we will take this case to environmental tribunals in order to reveal the multiple irregularities and shortcomings that had both the approval process and the company's environmental impact study." Currently, the citizen groups are preparing to file their legal complaints with the environmental court in the southern Chilean city of Valdivia. Under Chilean law, citizens and organizations whose claims were not addressed in the governmental approval of a project have 30 days to file an appeal. 
 
In that regard, Puelo Patagonia said the "conditions that Chile's government declared in its approval were laughable. For example, their call for changes to be made to the shape of the towers of the electric line without considering the impact of said towers on ecosystems, such as the logging of native forest."
 
The organizations concerned about the Puelo River watershed also said that the approval of this hydroelectric project is further proof that Chile's environmental impact assessment system is, to say the least, lax and does not truly seek the protection of the environment and nature in the country. "It's just a formality to approve investments with a low level of demands and environmental safeguards," they stated.
 
Finally, they stressed that they will continue "in their defense of the land" from an extractive model that destroys ecosystems and communities, because we have a commitment to present and future generations, and in that we will never renounce."
 
 

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