University of São Paulo: New bills could undo years of building environmental legislation

Bills that raise concern about the environmental damage they can cause are being discussed in Congress. Among them, PL 2159, which makes environmental licensing an exception, PLs 2633 and 510, which grant amnesty to land grabbing, PL 490, which changes the demarcation of indigenous lands, PL 191, which allows mining in indigenous lands, and PL 6,299/02 — called the “Poison Package” —, which revokes the current Pesticides Law.

Pedro Luiz Côrtes, professor at the School of Communications and Arts (ECA) and the Institute of Energy and Environment (IEE) at USP, talks to Jornal da USP in Ar 1st Edition about the bills. Côrtes comments that the measures are very worrying for the environment and may also create problems for the commercialization of Brazilian agricultural products abroad.

The bills
The professor believes that the projects are not isolated initiatives. “The impression you get is that there is coordination between them, so that one project complements the other.”

Bill 2159 creates self-declared licensing — in which companies declare what they will do from an environmental point of view without any verification or deliberation — and expands the list of activities that do not require licensing. The proposal was approved by the Chamber of Deputies and can be submitted for a vote in the Senate at any time.

Bills 2633 and 510 grant amnesty to land grabbing. “If approved, these projects will allow the illegally invaded and devastated public lands to be regularized and, at the same time, they encourage the continued illegal occupation of public lands and deforestation.”

Bill 490 allows for the repossession of indigenous reserves that were not being occupied in 1988. “And then it is important for us to remember that indigenous reserves are the main areas in terms of preservation in the Amazon. Repossession creates an environmental problem because it threatens the protection that indigenous peoples give to the areas where they inhabit, and it also jeopardizes the survival of diverse indigenous peoples.”

Côrtes believes that the amnesty against land grabbing and the repossession of indigenous lands are associated projects, one releasing the lands, the other allowing their devastation and exploitation.

Bill 191 allows mining, large-scale agriculture and infrastructure works on indigenous lands without the need for consent from indigenous peoples. “Those lands that are not reintegrated can be used in activities that will certainly compromise environmental preservation.”

The so-called “Poison Package”, which has been going through Congress for a few years, revokes the current pesticide law and makes the approval and use of these products in the country even more flexible, transferring all the power to approve these products to the Ministry of Agriculture. Currently, the Ministry of the Environment and Anvisa participate in the regulation.

walking backwards
“What we have today is that parliamentary interest groups try to reduce, or even eliminate, all the environmental legislation created and improved over several decades”, comments Côrtes.

“Brazil was a reference in several environmental aspects. He runs the risk of putting all this to waste. What we see is a great rush to try to pass these bills while this government is still in office.”

The professor highlights: if the projects are approved, they will go completely against Brazil’s promises at COP26.

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