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Glaciers under threat
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President Cristina Fernández vetoes law to protect glaciers.

In a highly criticized decision, President Cristina Fernández vetoed a broadly-backed glacier protection law on Nov. 10, claiming it put economic development in jeopardy.

The Environmental Budget for Glacier and Periglacier law, which had been approved unanimously by both chambers of Congress, had called for the protection, control and monitoring of all glaciers and periglaciers that act as water reserves throughout Argentina.

The law also prohibited activities “that could affect the natural conduction” of the glaciers, as well as banning their destruction, diversion, including that caused by the contaminating waste, infrastructure projects, mining and oil exploration and other industries.

According to Fernández´s veto, the law could have damaged “the economic development of the affected provinces with the impossibility of developing any kind of activity or project in the Cordillera zone.”

Environmental groups, such as the Foundation for the Defense of the Environment, complained that the veto favored large-scale mining projects such that of Canadian mining company Barrick Gold. Barrick´s Pascua Lama, a controversial exploration project on the border between Chile and Argentina has been strongly opposed by residents in the Chilean region of Atacama, the world´s driest desert. Environmentalists warn that the project, which involves moving the glaciers, will affect the fragile mountain ecosystem, and that the ice provides water to 70,000 farmers in the fertile Huasco Valley.

In a statement, the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Argentina said that this open-air “mega-mine” will have a “gigantic impact on the glaciers” and would affect an immeasurable water reserve.
—Latinamerica Press.

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Latinamerica Press / Noticias Aliadas
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