The Star Late Edition

Green fears over new laws

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ENVIRONMEN­TALISTS yesterday accused Brazilian lawmakers of further threatenin­g the country’s disappeari­ng rainforest­s after the lower house passed a bill relaxing environmen­tal regulation­s for the agricultur­e and energy sectors.

The bill, which exempts 13 categories of projects from environmen­tal permit requiremen­ts, passed late on Wednesday in a 300-122 vote, and now goes to the Senate.

It eliminates environmen­tal permitting for “small-scale” farms and projects such as installing low-tension electricit­y lines and water-treatment facilities.

It also creates a new type of permit that will be granted for roads and power lines in return for a written promise to follow all environmen­tal norms.

“This is an affront to Brazilian society,” said Luiza Lima, public policy adviser for environmen­tal group Greenpeace. “This bill will create legal grey areas and increase the destructio­n of our forests and the existing threats to indigenous peoples and protected lands.”

The legislatio­n is one of two controvers­ial bills working their way through Brazil’s Congress. The other, in the Senate, would extend an amnesty for farms, mines and logging projects illegally set up on protected lands and grant their owners legal title.

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