27 March 2014

Peru to make environmental reforms in build up to UN climate talks

Peru's new Minister of Energy and Mining says the government is working to speed up the process of awarding permits for investments in the environmental sector.

Minister Eleodoro Mayorga, who became President Ollanta Humala's third energy and mines minister in a cabinet reshuffle last month, said environmental permits can be needlessly burdensome in Peru.

Mayorga, a former World Bank petroleum economist, also explained that some oil exploration projects may become exempt from environmental impact studies. "An environmental impact study makes sense when there's a serious impact and we're working in a delicate region. But there's no need to do an environmental impact study for everything. That's the problem" he said.

The proposed reforms come at a time when the growth of Peru’s economy has slowed on weaker mineral exports and more cautious private investments.

Orthodox economic policies over the past twenty years have also led to energy and mining companies complaining about the slow pace of securing approvals for projects.

Mayorga said it makes sense to let oil companies conduct surveys at locations not deemed fragile without having to perform environmental impact studies which can take years.

President Humala, a former left-leaning military officer who turned to the centre after being elected in 2011, has pledged to transform Peru into a net energy exporter.

The country’s environment ministry, which oversees and approves the permits, has shown resistance to Mayorga's proposals to exempt some seismic activities from the environmental approval.

Peru is hosting the high-profile United Nations Climate Change Conference in November and the focus of the international community will be increasingly targeted on the Andean nation in the coming months.

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