Since July 4, 2018, the current glacier protection law propposal, (sixth attempt to create the law), has been processed in the National Congress. This project is under discussion by the Senate, specifically by the Mining and Energy Commission, because it could potentially affect the interests of mining companies, both state and private in the country.
In this Commission the project is trapped, because the current government intends to modify it, so that they have created new articles, to modify in order that the parliamentarians have to choose between themselves and the articles of the original project.
Next, we will see a tabulated synthesis of the original law project, versus the modifications proposed by the current government.
PROPOSAL OF THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT
|PURPOSE OF LAW PROTECTION||– All glaciers, in addition to the periglacial and permafrost environment.
– Glaciers are national assets for public use (they can’t be owned by people).
|– Only those registered and classified in the Public Inventory of Glaciers of the General Directorate of Waters.
– They will stop being glaciers when they are reduced to less than 0.1 hectares.
|SCOPE OF APPLICATION OF THE LAW||The scope of this law will be the entire national territory, without exception.||– Total protection, only to those located in Virgin Region Reserves and National Parks.
– Glaciers are allowed to intervene for public infrastructure works and actions based on the national interest, among others.
|AUTHORIZATION OF ACTIVITIES||Activities that may affect their natural condition or functions are prohibited, in particular the following:
a) The release of polluting elements;
b) The construction of architectural or infrastructure works;
c) Mining and hydrocarbon exploration and extraction;
d) The installation of industries or development of works or industrial activities.
|The removal, transfer, and covering with clearing material and / or debris that may affect glaciers is prohibited.
Any other alteration to glaciers must have the relevant Environmental Permit.
|PENALTIES FOR BREACH OF LAW||Lower prison in its minimum to maximum degree plus a fine of 100 to 1,000 UTM.||Fine from 500 to 1000 UTM|
|WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH THE WORKS IN GLACIERS AT THE TIME OF THE ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE NEW LAW||The authorizations that proceed in accordance with the rules of this new law must cease and require from the competent authorities.||The owners of the works are given a period of two years to issue a report indicating whether the glaciers have been affected differently than expected.|
From the previous table it is extracted that the original project offers total and complete protection to glaciers, in connection and in tune with the climatic emergency that our country is experiencing today, which is dragging a severe drought for more than 10 years. In times of water scarcity due to low rainfall, glaciers are the main source of water for the basins. Without going any further and due to this, 143 communes have been decreed in the central north area of the territory in water shortages, especially affecting this, the rural population and those with the least resources in our country.
René Hernández Tapia, Lawyer for the Chilean Glaciers Foundation.
Cover photo: Mesón Alto Glacier, Cajón del Maipo, Metropolitan Region. By Enrique Marmentini.