A coup against the enviroment and the people affected

Senators are trying to approve a project of amendment to the Constitution, named PEC 65/2012, that will end with the environmental license in Brazil. This project is an authorization for companies to commit environmental crimes and human rights violations, as this amendment extinguishes any penalty or the paralyzation of the construction, even if there are evidences of crimes and violations of rights.

With the approval of this amendment, constructions will need only to present the Study of Environmental Impact and the project of construction will be automatically authorized and the construction may not be canceled or suspended by any means, even through the Judiciary.

Senators justify that this change on the Constitution will give more “juridical security” and “speed” the constructions, because today “time is wasted” with the process of licensing. Also this would save money and avoid the “suspension or cancelment of any construction project”.

According to the Brazilian Constitution (until this moment) the law requires before implementing a project of construction an Environmental Impact Study (EIA) before authorizing or rejecting via the Environmental License “instalment of any construction or activity wich may cause significant environmental degradation”.

The environmental studies (EIA) and the environmental licensing are different from each other. The EIA is the environmental studies which have to be completed and presented before the authorization of the license and have as goal to analyses the social and economic conditions for that construction and consult the populations through Public Audiences. The Licensing is compound by three licenses, the Previous License, the License for Instalment and the License for Operation, wich authorizes (or rejects) the construction of a project or activity; this Licensing is given by the environmental organ responsible.

With the amendment PEC 65/2012 the requirement of the three licenses will be abolished. The company will only need to present the prior impact study, which will be automatically accepted and the construction may not be canceled or suspended. We can conclude that, with the new law, besides ending with the requirement of the licenses, it's will also end any mechanism of inspection of the constructions wich may signalize to suspend or cancel the project, even if temporary.

It means that, if a social and environmental crimes occurs, as for example happened at the basin of Rio Doce, it will not imply the cancellation of the operation of the enterprise, the company will be able to continue operating. The new law will seek to protect the business of any fines, compensation for any crime and will not allow the work to be paralyzed. That's what happened now with the approval of the agreement of the government with Samarco, which only provides the creation of a Fund to manage the recovery of the region without any participation of the victims, allowing the company to choose how it will compensate the crimes committed by itself.

The companies will have no obligation to spend on environmental compensation for recovery and environmental protection nor compensation with the new law. This means that the Environmental Studies will be increasingly simplified and lose its quality and predictability.

As this regards to public and private constructions, it means that the particular interests of entrepreneurs (profit) is above Article 225 of the Federal Constitution: "Everyone has the right to an ecologically balanced environment and of common use and essential to a healthy life, imposing to the government and society the duty to defend and preserve it for present and future generations."

What Brazilian lawmakers are proposing is tearing the current environmental legislation built by the Brazilian people, to benefit those who paid their rich electoral campaigns: large transnational companies.
To increase profit, large companies will gain permission to destroy and will have more protection by law and will have to sped less in environmental compensations. In return we will have huge consequences for the working people and the environment, lives will be snuffed out.

Certainly the companies that destroy the environment and violate rights will be the most benefited. Environmental and social crimes such as the recent case of Samarco (Vale / BHP Billiton) in the basin of Rio Doce may certainly increase and no punishment will be applied.

The Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) facing the imminent irresponsibility and brutality of the Brazilian parliament, denounces and calls the people to fight together against this coup against the environment and the lives of thousands of people.