PL in the Senate can induce 53,000 km² of deforestation with just one work, says study

Works planned by the federal government may trigger deforestation in the coming years, if the conditions for environmental licensing are relaxed, as proposed in PL nº 2.150/2021, which is pending in the Senate and may be voted on this week.

The appointment was made in two technical notes produced by ISA (Socio-Environmental Institute) in partnership with UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais).

Through mathematical models, they calculate an explosion in deforestation linked to enterprises like Ferrogrão and BR-319, examples of works that are already planned and should be released from responsibility for deforestation if the draft General Law on Environmental Licensing is approved by the Senate.

The main concern pointed out in the study is the express prohibition made by the bill to conditions for the issuance of the license (such as prevention, mitigation and compensation measures for environmental impacts).

The article of the bill, approved by the Chamber of Deputies in May, prohibits the establishment of environmental conditions on impacts caused by third parties and over which the public authorities have the power of the police.

“How the fight against deforestation and other illegal activities in the Amazon consist of competence – and duty constitutional – inserted within the scope of the state police power, in addition to being an activity carried out by ‘third parties’, it follows that any measures to contain deforestation resulting from the installation of high-impact projects, such as roads, railways, can no longer be subject to environmental constraints. hydroelectric plants and others”, states the technical note.

The Ferrogrão project, a railroad that should link soy-producing municipalities from Sinop (MT) to the port region of Mirituba (PA) , can generate “deforestation of 53.113,5 km² in native forest in the interior of the basin its logistics between the years 2015 to 2030”, calculates the study.

The engine of deforestation it would be conversion of forest and savanna areas for agricultural use, since 57% of the native vegetation verified in the railway project’s logistic basin is in areas with high aptitude for the cultivation of soy.

Another work analyzed by the study is the paving of the BR-150, which connects Manaus (AM) to Porto Velho (RO) and can raise annual deforestation in the state of Amazonas to the level of 9,400 km² in 2050. Between 2014 and 2015, the average annual deforestation in the state was 1.150 km².

In the case of the BR-319, the highway itself would give way to deforestation, facilitating access to preserved areas. About 113% of deforestation and 57% of burning in the Amazon are concentrated at a distance of up to 5 km of roads, the note says, based on data published in 2014 in the scientific publications Biological Conservation and International Journal of Wildland Fire.

“With paving and without measures to control deforestation, the accumulated carbon emissions would also more than quadruple in relation to the scenario foreseen without paving, reaching 8 billion tons – equivalent to the emission of 57 years of deforestation in the Legal Amazon based on the rate of 2015”, says the note.

“By making environmental licensing an exception and making the adoption of environmental conditions unfeasible to prevent the illegal removal of vegetation, the bill will result in an increase in deforestation in the Legal Amazon at levels that will prevent the Brazil to fulfill its goals assumed in the Paris Agreement”, he concludes.

O The project under consideration in the Senate provides for thirteen license waivers, in addition to the creation of an automatic license, without prior assessment by the environmental agency, for most activities that have an impact on the environment, classified as having “significant environmental impact”.

Only a minority of projects, classified as having “significant degrading potential”, would undergo licensing with prior assessment by an environmental agency.

According to this criterion , 57, 6% of mining activities projects and their dams in Minas Gerais would obtain automatic license, calculates the second technical note issued by the ISA and the UFMG.

“ will greatly increase the risk of proliferation of new socio-environmental disasters, such as the tragedies that occurred in Mariana (MG) and Brumadinho (MG)”, concludes the study.

Project reporter, senator Kátia Abreu (PP-TO) confirmed that the matter may go to a vote in the Senate plenary this week, but said that he will still try to finalize the text.

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