Project could make 80 thousand environmental licensing more flexible – 03/29/2024 – Environment

Project could make 80 thousand environmental licensing more flexible – 03/29/2024 – Environment


A bill being processed in Congress that makes environmental licensing more flexible could, if approved, influence the analysis of at least 80 thousand projects in Brazil.

The number was obtained by Sheet based on a survey of ongoing processes (more than 76,600) in the states in addition to federal-level procedures (almost 4,000) under the responsibility of Ibama (Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources).

Currently in the Senate and supported by the ruralist bench, the bill seeks to change the rules for the environmental licensing process at federal, state and municipal levels.

It regulates the LAC (License by Adhesion and Commitment) for the entire country, a self-declaratory term that the enterprise complies with the required rules, and stipulates maximum deadlines for the process to progress.

Critics claim that the LAC will serve as a “self-licensing” and that the time limit will make it impossible to analyze more complex cases. Defenders, on the other hand, say that the proposal will reduce bureaucracy in procedures and provide legal certainty for enterprises.

Currently, each state has its own licensing laws. According to experts, these procedures are often problematic due to the lack of personnel to carry out the necessary analyses, political pressure or the laxity of environmental rules — the adhesion license itself, for example, already exists in some places.

There is no common systematization or unique criteria, and some states spread their processes across more than one department.

A Sheet It has been reaching out to the states since the end of February and some administrations needed more than a week to be able to add up how many processes currently exist under their umbrella.

Even with almost a month to make the information available, the states of Roraima, Bahia and Mato Grosso do Sul did not tell the report how many procedures are currently underway.

They also did not respond when the Sheet asked what justified the non-disclosure of the data.

All more than 76,000 state licenses could be affected if the bill that makes procedures more flexible is approved in Congress. Municipal-level processes were not included in the report’s survey.

Suely Araújo, public policy coordinator at the Climate Observatory and former president of Ibama, calls the project the “mother of all cattle” and says that, if approved, it could cause a “general release” for impact projects.

“Licensing can and should be rationalized, to ensure greater predictability for entrepreneurs, but prioritizing environmental license exemptions and self-licensing is far from being the appropriate path”, he states.

She criticizes the fact that the project expands the LAC throughout Brazil, which eliminates the need for environmental studies for a series of projects.

“They want LAC to become the rule, not the exception. If there is no prior study, technical and locational alternatives are not analyzed, which are the soul of environmental impact assessment”, he states.

The professor of environmental impact analysis at the USP Polytechnic School (University of São Paulo), Luís Sanchéz, states that the proposal could potentially increase the disparity in the analysis between different states and municipalities.

“The bill opens [a possibilidade de] that each state will define which types of projects require more rigorous evaluation and which can follow a simplified path”, he analyzes.

He also highlights that the effect could be even greater on the procedures carried out by cities. “It’s very difficult to monitor, because they are dispersed, but some studies indicate that environmental licensing at the municipal level tends to be less rigorous than in other spheres. That doesn’t mean it’s always the case, but it’s a trend,” he says.

With exceptions —border cases, for example—, environmental licensing processes are the responsibility of states or even some municipalities, depending on the location, such as Pará.

Araújo understands that defining flexibility throughout the national territory can increase the risk of this type of enterprise.

“Cases such as the dam failures that occurred in Mariana and Brumadinho could probably be avoided with more vigorous monitoring of these projects, which were both licensed by the state environmental agency”, he says.

Sanchéz also says that he is in favor of the idea of ​​giving greater legal security to projects, as defended by the project’s defenders, but states that this cannot trample environmental guarantees.

He says that the project does not advance issues of consultation with impacted people and communities and, in some cases, even determines that this procedure only be carried out at the end of the licensing process, thus limiting the possibility of it having practical effects on the project.

“It is clear that the objective of the project is not to make development compatible with environmental protection, but only to improve the legal security of entrepreneurs. This is out of balance with the rights of the affected communities and the rights of future generations, which are the basis of the legislation environment”, he states.

In his view, the relaxation of licensing rules could mean that the indirect or more complex impacts of projects are no longer analyzed, as in the case of BR-319, which in addition to the direct impact of asphalting, can also facilitate access, from the highway, for those who want to enter the forest to deforest or commit other environmental crimes.


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