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BRAZIL’S LOWER HOUSE PASSES BILL TO LOOSEN PERMITTING REQUIREMENTS

05/17/2021

On May 12, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies passed a bill to expedite infrastructure, mining, and agricultural projects by relaxing existing environmental regulations associated with the permitting process. The bill has been strongly opposed by environmental groups who argue that it will accelerate the already fast-paced destruction of the Amazon Rainforest, worsening the looming climate crisis (Reuters, Al Jazeera). The bill was passed in a 300-122 vote and is awaiting consideration by Brazil’s Senate (French 24).

Supporters of the controversial bill argue that it will help to increase investment and economic growth in the country. If passed, the bill would provide a special status to 13 “low-risk” categories of projects. So long as they are able to meet certain filing requirements, these projects would be awarded their necessary permits automatically, bypassing usually required environmental reviews (Reuters, Brazilian Report).

Many of Brazil’s leaders have come forward to voice their disapproval of the bill. Nine former environmental ministers issued an open letter opposing the measure ahead of the Chamber of Deputies’ vote. Environmental groups have also signed a letter expressing their concerns to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which Brazil hopes to join in the near future (Reuters).