Brazil’s Amazon dam plans: Ominous warnings of future destruction (commentary)

The Santo Antônio dam (seen here) and Jirau dam were documented to have significantly contributed to disastrous upstream flooding on the Madeira River in 2014, extending out of Brazil into Bolivia. Today, both dams block aquatic migrations and have negatively impacted river fisheries. Image courtesy of Santo Antônio Energia. Every year Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy publishes a “Decennial Plan for Energy Expansion,” which includes the “large” dams (since 2004 defined in Brazil as having at least 30 MW installed capacity) to be completed within the ten-year time horizon. The number of Amazonian dams listed has steadily declined in the last few plans, a fact that the plans make clear is due to “uncertainty” about current licensing policies restricting impacts on the environment and on Indigenous peoples. The most recent plan, which is for 2020-2029, lists only three dams: Tabajara (in Rondônia), Bem Querer (in Roraima), and Castanheiras (in Mato Grosso). A longer list of dams to be completed “after 2029” is also included, but the most controversial dams are also not included in it. The 2020-2029 plan contains an ominous paragraph (p. 264) making clear that unnamed dams could be built depending on the “treatment” of conservation units (protected areas for biodiversity) and Indigenous Lands. In other words, more and more-damaging dams could be built if regulations are changed, as is proposed in bills currently moving through committees in Brazil’s National Congress. This is not a remote possibility, as Brazil’s environmental regulations have been being dismantled since the…This article was originally published on Mongabay
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