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Amazon Watch 2/17/2014

Gas Company To Drill in Manu National Park Buffer Zone, Imperiling Indigenous People

February 4, 2014 | David Hill | Source: Mongabay.com

Map of gas operations in the KNN Territorial Reserve and Manu Buffer Area. Map credit: David Hill

 Mongabay.com

Map of gas operations in the KNN Territorial Reserve and Manu Buffer Area. Map credit: David Hill

The Peruvian government has approved plans for gas company Pluspetrol to move deeper into a supposedly protected reserve for indigenous peoples and the buffer zone of the Manu National Park in the Amazon rainforest.

The approval follows the government rescinding a highly critical report on the potential impacts of the operations by the Culture Ministry (MINCU), the resignation of the Culture Minister and other Ministry personnel, and repeated criticism from Peruvian and international civil society.

A subsequent report by MINCU requested that Pluspetrol abandon plans to conduct seismic tests in one small part of the reserve because of the “possible presence of [indigenous] people in isolation,” but didn’t object to tests across a much wider area. In addition to the seismic tests, the planned operations include building a 10.5km flow-line and drilling 18 exploratory wells at six locations—all of them in the reserve which lies immediately to the west of the Manu National Park and acts as part of its buffer zone.

The government approved the plans on January 27th when the Energy Ministry issued a resolution on the operation’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), written by Pluspetrol together with consultancy Environmental Resources Management.

The decision was swiftly condemned by AIDESEP. The national indigenous organization accused the government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which has played a key role in gas operations in that region to date, of violating their commitments.

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Canada Orders Enforcement Action to Proceed Against Chevron in Ecuador Pollution Case

Toronto, Canada – Indigenous and farmer communities in Ecuador scored a major victory over Chevron today when an Ontario appeals court ruled they have the right to pursue enforcement of a $9.5 billion Ecuadorian court judgment against Chevron’s assets in Canada.

The court also ordered Chevron’s two Canadian subsidiaries to pay $100,000 in costs to the Ecuadorians.

“After all these years, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs deserve to have the recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment heard in an appropriate jurisdiction,” said the decision issued by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal of Ontario.  “At this juncture, Ontario is that jurisdiction.”

The decision, a copy of which is here, was lauded by the leaders of the Ecuadorian communities and their lawyers.

“This order will allow us the opportunity to hold Chevron accountable for fleeing the scene of its environmental crimes in Ecuador after a valid judgment was entered against it,” said Pablo Fajardo, the lead Ecuadorian lawyer for the villagers.

Humberto Piaguaje, a Secoya indigenous leader who is the director of the Assembly of Affected Communities, said: “This decision is momentous.  It proves Chevron cannot hide behind legal technicalities to avoid justice.”

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