Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina plan to build a massive natural gas pipeline
of up to 9,000 km in length from Venezuela to Argentina through Brazil's Amazon
rainforest. Construction of the pipeline would be the most ambitious physical
infrastructure initiative in South America's history, costing up to $25 billion
and taking up to seven years to build. The pipeline would pierce the heart of
the Amazon and ensure its destruction as a large, operable whole. It would
devastate rainforests, water resources, the climate and indigenous populations
across a huge swathe of South America.
The pipeline would devastate the Amazon rainforest's environment. Large areas of
pristine rainforests will be destroyed during construction, and new roads will
open the rest for colonization by ranchers and loggers. Historically rainforest
for 50 kilometers on each side of new roads are cleared within years of
construction. The multitude of waterways traversing the Amazon will be polluted
during construction and inevitable pipeline leaks. The pipeline will contribute
to global warming through deforestation and the production of oil to access the gas.
The pipeline represents the most antiquated, primitive neo-liberal economic
development policy which the region's governments rally against. And it is
economically questionable. Both Brazil and Argentina have gas fields large
enough to cover their own domestic demands. It is not clear that Venezuela has
the capacity to maintain such a large steady supply of gas, nor that the gas
could be offered at a competitive price given the huge investment required.
Further, the project's six month schedule for preparation is highly unrealistic
given that much smaller pipelines in Brazil have taken a decade to prepare and
have been halted in court for years.
The similar existing Camisea gas pipeline through rainforests in Peru - which
was touted as a model of sustainable development, environmental protection and
respect for indigenous peoples - offers a cautionary tale of the damage caused
by gas pipelines during construction and their operation. In three years of
operation is has already experienced five major spills, severely damaging the
environment and local communities. Indigenous communities have been devastated
by disease, and water resources that they depend upon for drinking and fishing
have been fouled.
The proposed pipeline is a major threat to the existence of the Amazon
rainforest, as well as regional and global ecological sustainability. It would
devastate the region's rainforests, water and climate; and the leaders of
Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina must be called upon to scrap plans for its
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Despite the usual assurances, the construction and operation of the Camisea gas pipeline through Peru's rainforests has been a disaster
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