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NEWS: HidroAysén dam fight to go to Chilean Supreme Court

United Press International reports, “A Chilean appeals court (recently) voted 3-1 to reject seven lawsuits brought against the (HidroAysén) dam complex. …Responding to the latest ruling, the Patagonia Sin Represas citizen’s group said it would take the matter to the Supreme Court.”

“The lawsuits questioned the regularity and impartiality of a government process that promised a serious environmental review in the area affected by the dam.”

“Work on the dam’s preliminary construction is well under way and officials and private sector executives managing the project say they don’t expect a serious obstacle to having the dam in place despite the protests.”

“The project (also) involves the construction of about 1,240 miles of transmission lines to carry the energy generated by the dams to central and northern Chile. The transmission network has also been condemned by conservationists and environmental groups.” Transelec – the Chilean company that would most likely build the transmission line, which requires an 80-metre wide logged corridor through 14 national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas – is controlled by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and the British Columbia Investment Management Corp.

In February 2008, the Council of Canadians began voicing its opposition to the proposed dams and transmission line. We are demanding that the involved Canadian pension funds reject the HidroAysén project. In May 2011, Maude Barlow stated, “Canadians support democracy, freedom of expression, and responsible environmental stewardship at home and around the world. But most Canadians have no idea that their pension plans are fuelling the kind of environmental destruction planned in Chile. In a global world, what can seem far away may be very close to home. Canadians must stand with the people of Chile in opposing this terrible project and condemning the undemocratic and violent actions of the state.”

The UPI article notes, “Critics say the dams project is unnecessary and Chile’s additional power needs can be met by cutting waste and improving distribution of the existing electricity production.” Last week, Reuters reported, “Chile, the world’s top copper producer, is seeking to boost and diversify its power grid to confront rising energy needs and drought-induced energy shortages…” As noted in previous campaign blogs, the Council of Canadians has commissioned a report on the dam, the transmission lines and Canadian mining companies in Chile to be released in November 2011. We are also planning a fact-finding mission to Chile in early-2012.

For related blogs, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=HidroAysen.