5 Bills in Brazilian Congress that may Adversely Affect the Amazon

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InfoAmazonia, Sao Paulo, Brazil

In 2014, protests by social movements, such as the invasion of Congress by indigenous leaders, made the parliamentary discussions on the Proposed Amendment to the Constitution (PEC) 215/2000 were successively canceled . The matter pending before the House of Representatives, remove from the jurisdiction of the President for the demarcation of indigenous lands, transferring it to Congress.While strong mobilizations have caused the project to be filed, it must return to the agenda of the House in 2015, evaluate non-governmental organizations (NGOs) heard by Infoamazonia . Besides the PEC 215, four other matters can return to be processed this year and, if approved, bring negative impacts to Amazon.

In protest against the PEC 215, indigenous tried to occupy Annex 2 to the House of Representatives.  Photo: Gabriela Korossy / House of Representatives (12/16/2014)

In protest against the PEC 215, indigenous tried to occupy Annex 2 to the House of Representatives.Photo: Gabriela Korossy / House of Representatives (12/16/2014)

The outstanding projects were not filed by the end of 2014 or have a good chance of returning to the agenda, following the internal regulations of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate . With some exceptions (check below project to project), archiving happens at the end of each term - a period of four years commencing on 1 February of the following year for each election for representatives of the National Congress, with the possession of elected.

If filed, projects lose their course and need to be re-presented to the plenary by repeating the whole rite done previously to be approved. With the reopening, the proposed return to be processed where they left off in the previous period.

1) demarcation of indigenous lands
PEC 215, presented in 2000 by then-Congressman Almir Sá (PPB-RR), want to change the Constitution leaves to Congress the power to approve the demarcation of indigenous lands. Today, the final word is the Minister of Justice, after a long process involving anthropological studies of identification led by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) and deadline for objections by any party interested in the recognition of the area.

If approved, the proposal also would require the processing of a bill defining the criteria and procedures for the demarcation of indigenous lands. In addition to the indigenous lands, the PEC 215 amendments seek to transfer also to Congress recognition of remnants of quilombos and the creation of protected areas.

See below for indigenous lands and protected areas of the Amazon and check out the forest clearing in recent decades

"It is an extremely worrying project," says Aldem Bourscheit, a specialist in public policy at WWF-Brazil. "The arguments [in favor of the PEC 215] are freak, the line that the country would have many indigenous lands." He considers that, in practice, the approval of the PEC "would plastering the demarcation of indigenous lands." As for Márcio Astrini, campaign coordinator of Greenpeace Brazil, indigenous lands "are the most efficient way to combat deforestation."

Filed in 2014, the PEC 215 can again be discussed by a special commission in 2015. For this, the matter needs to be declassified by one of the 26 deputies who, in 2000, signed by the presentation of the proposal and returned to the House of Representatives in 2015 . They have until July 31 to ask for reopening. When was drafted by Almir Sá, the PEC 215 had the support of 232 MPs (check the list here) . Being a proposition to amend the Constitution are needed at least 171 signatures (or one third of the House).

2) Genetic resources
The 7735 PL 2014 is highlighted by Adriana Ramos, Coordinator of the Amazon's Environmental Institute (ISA). The proposal would replace the Provisional Ruling 2186-16 / 2001 , which currently regulates the commercial use of genetic heritage.According to Adriana, the PL "simplification of legislation on the use of biodiversity.""From a difficulty that the government has to supervise, the Executive made a law that simplifies what should be monitored."

Traditional communities - as indigenous and maroon - have and practical information on the uses of these genetic resources of interest to the pharmaceutical, food industries, hygiene, among others. Home to nearly one in five species on the planet, Brazil has the highest biodiversity in the world, as has thousands of traditional communities that make use of this biological diversity.

Adriana, a project of the problem today is that, if approved, should provide that micro-enterprises no longer need to share financial gains with local communities."But many large companies use these smaller companies to make use of genetic resources obtained," he points out. The NGO also claims that the people affected were not consulted in the preparation of the project, which is contrary to Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), ratified in 2002 by Brazil.

The matter is by the executive branch. So it was not filed in late 2014 and continues its regular course. The proposal is being processed in emergency regime - when the House has 45 days to vote - and was even put to a vote in plenary in December 2014, but the discussion was delayed by obstruction of the agenda. At the time, lawmakers opposed to the project left the floor to prevent the formation of the necessary quorum to vote. A special committee to consider the issue came to be created on paper in July 2014, but was never actually made.

3) Mining Code
The new Mining Code, under discussion in the House of Representatives, want to replace the decree-law 227 of 1967 , which currently regulates the activity. The bill (PL) 37/2011 stipulates that the government must bid the mining areas and also will increase state revenues. The proposition faces great pressure from companies operating in the country because as demonstrated by the Public Agency influencesthe campaign financing of the politicians involved with the special committee that analyzes the PL.

The project does not advance in the regulation of the activity for the environment, but the discussion concerned Adriana Ramos: "It seems to me that indigenous land mining proposals will try to be adopted separately". Aldem Bourscheit, WWF-Brazil, believes that "Brazil needs, yes, a new mining legislation." "But unfortunately, so far, the ongoing projects have failed to take the protection that we expect."

The PL 37/2011 has priority scheme - when to enter the voting agenda immediately after all propositions on an emergency basis. The article was produced by Mr Weliton Prado (PT-MG), who was re-elected in 2014 and has until July 31 to request the reopening of the project and maintain the current stage of proceedings.Otherwise, a new proposal will be presented.

4) Cane in the Amazon
With Senate Bill (PLS) 626 2011 , Flexa Ribeiro (PSDB-PA), author of the proposal, wants to legalize the planting of cane sugar in degraded areas of the Amazon. The activity is hampered in the biome since 2009, when the Decree No. 6961 , which prevents the granting of rural credit to the type plantations in the Amazon, was published by President Lula.

The problem, Márcio Astrini, is that cultivation can increase the "pressure for deforestation." "The cane will occupy large areas, which today are livestock, rice, cotton and soybeans, and push these other cultures into the forest." The environmentalist Greenpeace also believes that there is a "lack of governance" in the zoning of the area that would weaken the situation and increase deforestation.

See the advance of deforestation in the Amazon

The project was approved in May 2013 in a terminating character (when only need the approval of the committees responsible for approval and does not go to Chamber of Deputies plenary vote) by the Environmental Commission, Consumer Protection and Surveillance and Control. However, the PLS returned to transact after Senator Cristovam Buarque (PDT-DF) included an amendment to the vote and called for the inclusion of two committees in the discussion to be approved. Voting is standing in the Economic Affairs Committee, where he received negative opinion of the rapporteur Rodrigo Rollemberg (PSB-DF). Three other committees must also consider the amendment before the project can be approved and sent to the Chamber of Deputies.

As the term of eight years of Flexa Ribeiro ends only in 2019, the PLS 626/2011 was not filed and continues its regular course.

5) Mining in protected areas
Aldem Bourscheit, WWF, says the PL 3682, 2012 , as one of the worrying proposals that may come back to the agenda this year. Its author, Rep Vinicius Gurgel, Amapá PR, was re-elected and wants mining is permitted up to 10% of the areas of conservation units. In return, the deputy proposes that the mining company to explore within protected areas donate "to the competent environmental agency" a land with "twice the size of the transferred area and the same characteristics", as explained in the Project menu. The activity today is prohibited in these areas.

In defense of the proposal, the parliamentary argues that "a large number of these units [conservation], especially in the Amazon, were created on land with great mineral potential." Gurgel considers that these reservations are required for economic growth.

"But the impact will not be limited to these 10%. The mining activity always has a great impact, "says Bourscheit. "There are other conservation areas that could respond to mining activity. Brazil does not need degrade its protected areas to house these activities. "

Being processed in conclusive character (when it can be approved only with the approval of the committees responsible for and will not vote in plenary of the House of Representatives), the project is in the Mines and Energy Commission, which is not rated yet, but already has an opinion favorable rapporteur, Mr Bernardo Santana de Vasconcellos (PR-MG). The deputy proposed a substitute to Vinicius Gurgel project that submits the demarcation of fully protected conservation units to Congress and does not create limits or counterparts to mining in these areas. The PL 3682/2012 must still go through two other committees before being approved.

How was re-elected, Queiroz Gurgel need to ask that the project be reinstated until July 31.

See where there is mining in the Amazon and combine the data with protected areas and indigenous lands