BUENOS AIRES, (Tierramérica).- The Argentine affiliate of Greenpeace, the international environmental watchdog, is launching a campaign this month to promote the use of wind energy, with sights on the upcoming meeting of the Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition, set for June in Bonn.
Argentina has an electricity output capacity of 25,000 megawatts, but "clean" sources represent just one percent. Greenpeace and the Argentine Chamber of Wind Generators (CAGE) maintain that this proportion could reach seven percent by 2013 -- with sufficient political will and international cooperation.
Juan Carlos Villalonga, head of the Greenpeace-Argentina energy campaign, told Tierramérica his organization is meeting this month with officials and business executives linked to wind energy in the southern provinces of Santa Cruz and Chubut, and in Buenos Aires.
In those meetings, Greenpeace and CAGE will present an action plan for achieving an output of 3,000 megawatts of wind energy within nine years.
No Money for Clean-Up
LIMA, (Tierramérica).- The U.S. company Doe Run Resources has asked the Peruvian government to allow it to postpone clean-up of the dangerous contamination caused by its mining activities in Junin and Oroya, in the central sierra, since 1997.
The company claims it lacks the funds for the operation due to low mining prices from 1999 to 2002.
Jaime Quijandría, minister of energy and mines, said on Mar. 8 that Doe Run Resources has invested just 16 percent of the 174 million dollars it promised for the clean-up to be completed in 2007.
A study last year by the non-governmental Oroya Health Movement found that the local population has 13 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood -- three percentage points more than the maximum considered acceptable.
Juan Aste, the movement's technical advisor, told Tierramérica that the Oroya population will stage protests against the clean-up delay and to demand the intervention of the General Directorate for Environmental Health.
Referendum on Right to Water
MONTEVIDEO, (Tierramérica).- Uruguayan civil society groups will celebrate Mar. 22, World Water Day, with workshops, exhibits and cultural activities to raise awareness about the importance of this resource and to promote a constitutional reform that would prohibit the privatization of water and sanitation services.
Faced with the government's attempts to privatize water services, the groups involved in the National Commission in Defense of Water and Life gathered signatures last year and achieved the necessary number to propose a reform, which will be put to a referendum along with the national elections in October.
If voters approve the initiative, water will be declared a basic and inalienable right, and social factors will take priority over economics in provision of water services, Selva Ortiz, of the local organization Redes/Friends of the Earth, told Tierramérica.
The group says that the privatization experience in the department of Maldonado "demonstrates that private administration drives of costs for the users, reduces quality of services and does not preserve the environment."
Tribunal in Defense of Water
SAN JOSE, (Tierramérica).- The Central American Water Tribunal is conducting its second session of hearings Mar. 15-19 in the Costa Rican capital to debate nine cases involving the countries of the region.
The Tribunal is a civil society organization that seeks moral condemnation of individuals and institutions responsible for jeopardizing water resources, biologist Ricardo Valverde, the group's technical advisor, told Tierramérica.
Among the cases to be heard is one involving the Minerales de Occidente company, which engages in open pit mining in Honduras, and another about excessive exploitation of water resources in northern Costa Rica.
The debate will also take up the issue of contamination from radioactive material in the Panama Canal, harm caused by highway construction in El Salvador, and the potential negative consequences for Lake Nicaragua of a tilapia fish farm.
Fish as Alternative to Coffee
GUATEMALA CITY, (Tierramérica).- The Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is promoting tilapia fish farming as a productive alternative for communities that have been hit hard by the coffee crisis, especially along the southern coast.
"In Guatemala the conditions exist for raising tilapia, a fast-growing fish. It only requires that the fish farm is not above an altitude of 1,500 meters and that average temperatures are maintained at 26 to 28 degrees (Celsius)," deputy agriculture minister Ramiro Pérez told Tierramérica.
On Mar. 5, with technical support from the government of Taiwan, the ministry set up the Sabana Grande National Center for Aquiculture Production and Training, in the southern department of Escuintla.
The center will serve as a platform for expanding tilapia production, and will sell three varieties of this popular fish, brought from San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Out of Firefighting Funds
TEGUCIGALPA, (Tierramérica).- The national government has left the forestry development agency COHDEFOR without funds for preventing and fighting forest fires, denounced the entity's director, Gustavo Morales.
He said he expects the officials to amend the error, but that for new he is seeking help from the U.S. Agency for International Development and other potential donors.
On Mar. 10, an official commission, including COHDEFOR, firefighting services and the armed forces, met to draft a plan to combat the ongoing problem of forest fires.
Each year, an average of 55,000 hectares of forest are destroyed by fires, many of which are intentionally set, especially during the summer months, according to COHDEFOR.
The agency is pressing landowners to implement fire prevention measures, or face lawsuits for crimes against the environment, Morales told Tierramérica.
Project to Protect Reservoir
BOGOTA, (Tierramérica).- Authorities in northern Colombia inaugurated the Guájaro Reservoir Community Project on Mar. 13 in this region on the Caribbean coast.
The initiative is the result of a study by experts from the sanitary and environmental engineering school of the local university.
Rafael Oyaga, who heads the project, told Tierramérica that workshops for Guájaro area residents will be conducted to raise awareness and to organize projects for recuperating and conserving the reservoir and to improve the quality of life of the community, which relies largely on fishing.
The aim is to create a culture of participation and to provide the population with the tools needed to fight contamination and other health and environmental problems afflicting the area, he said. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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