Encouraging New Law In Argentina Bans Mining Around Glaciers

Perito Moreno Glacier In Argentina - Photo

Photo: Dominic Alves/Creative Commons.

Greenpeace is on a roll in Argentina. After celebrating the agreement to make powerful companies take back toxic waste, they are now cheering after the approval of a new law to protect glaciers from mining operations.

Not without exceptional pressure from mining lobbies and after a heated discussion in the chamber, the rule approved by the Argentine Senate a few days ago will give new budgets for environmental protection, create an inventory of the country's glaciers and will prohibit projects that alter or destroy these amazing natural systems.The law was at the center of a heated political debate during the past weeks, since there were two different projects that could be approved and two positions between legislators.

As Pagina 12 points out, on one side, a group defended the protection of glaciers to preserve the access of water as a human right; on the other, provinces (mainly the ones with powerful mining industries) claimed that the law is unconstitutional in preventing them to manage their natural resources.

But the law was approved anyway, which was celebrated by environmental groups. Newspaper La Nacion resumes the main points:
-Minimum budgets: The law establishes minimum budgets that will have to be destined to the protection of glaciers and their surrounding areas;
-Inventory: A governmental organism will have to make a National Glacier Inventory, which will determine which areas are under the law;
-Reduction of mining operations: Infrastructure work that alters or destroys glaciers will be prohibited in protected areas.
-Surrounding areas: The protection goes far to safeguard also periglacial areas from mining and oil extracting practices.
-Environmental impact studies: All activities that are not prohibited by law will also have to go through an environmental impact to ensure they will not alter glaciers. This is also required for projects that are already being developed, and in case damage is detected they can be stopped.

It's funny that the law was approved again after it was vetoed by Argentine president Cristina Fernandez in 2008, but it's not such a surprise considering the veto caused a controversial revolt for the president. It's definitely a win anyway, especially considering how devastating mining operations can be.

The number, volume and area of glaciers in Argentina is uncertain, which is why the inventory will improve the information regarding these important natural resources.

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