Indigenous organizations in the Amazon have demanded Peru's Congress backtrack a recently passed Hydrocarbon bill, arguing it ignores the rights of Indigenous peoples and undermines environmental conservation efforts.
Peru’s Congressional Energy and Mining Commission approved a series of projects aimed at promoting the production of hydrocarbons and to strengthen the national oil company Perupetro. But the Indigenous organizations said these were designed with the sole purpose of maximizing production at the expense of the people and the environment.
In a press release published on Monday, 31 Indigenous and environmental organizations, local and international, carefully explained their position regarding the bill
“It seems that the decision doesn’t take into account the environmental and health emergency declarations the Peruvian state had to issue in the present decade due to environmental problems in Indigenous territories and people’s health thanks to low standards in hydrocarbon projects,” reads the statement. “That’s the only explanation for the bill to lack an integral sustainability perspective, weakening the environmental institutions of the country.”
Among the signing organizations are the Interethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Jungle (Aidesep), the Center for the Development of the Amazon Indigenous (CEDIA), the Ecological Forum of Peru, Earth Rights International (ERI), the Citizens Movement Against Climate Change (Mocicc), the National Organization of Andean and Amazonic Indigenous Women of Peru (Onamiap), the Regional Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples of San Lorenzo (CORPI), the National Coordinator of Human Rights (Cnddhh), the General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP), and many others.
The statement points out that the new bill gives the Ministry of Energy and Mining (MINEM) the last word on environmental impact decisions, at the expense of the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) and its autonomy.
Other provisions include such items as, eliminating the requirement of a previous environmental impact study to approve new projects, replacing it with a much less meticulous environmental impact declaration; allowing the construction of infrastructure in forest areas without prior permission, opening up possible invasions of land belonging to uncontacted tribes and other Indigenous lands; and increasing the length of exploration and exploitation licenses for up to 80 years.
The organizations demand backtracking the bill, to reject laws that harm energy sovereignty and the rights of Indigenous peoples over their lands, as well as the autonomy of regional and local governments and environmental institutions.
They also call for a national dialogue; for free and informed consent practices, since the government is making decisions affecting the collective rights of Indigenous peoples; and for the government to reduce environmental impacts in the sector by improving techniques and adopting cleaner technologies.