Peru to loosen oversight on energy projects

Peru's Energy and Mines Minister Eleodoro Mayorga said March 25 that the government is working on a package of reforms to speed up permitting for investments, including exempting some oil exploration projects from environmental impact studies. Mayorga, a former World Bank petroleum economist who became President Ollanta Humala's third energy minister in a cabinet reshuffle last month, said: "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. At this time there is the need to review this through a new regulation." He added: "Very few countries demand environmental impact studies for seismic activities." (Reuters, El Comercio, March 26)

The announcement comes amid controversy over the impact study for the planned 600-megawatt Chadín II hydro-electric complex in Cajamarca region, released last month. José Serra, a specialist with the group Amazonía e Hidroeléctricas, protested that the study failed to adequeately assess the impacts of having water released into the Río Marañon according to the demands of electrical usage and not natural seasonal cycles. He also said the social impacts of relocating some 1,000 campesinos for the mega-project needed to be taken into account. (Celendin Libre, March 14; Actualidad Ambiental, Sept. 30)