Colombia’s top court rules that fracking pilot projects can proceed despite moratorium

Published by Brent Patterson on

Reuters reports, “Colombia’s top administrative court on [September 17] clarified that a moratorium on fracking it upheld last week does not prevent ‘investigative’ pilot projects, surprising both oil companies and environmental activists.”

The President of the Council of State says, “The court advises that the reach of this decision does not impede the development of comprehensive investigative pilot projects … made by the expert commission convened by the national government.”

This comes despite a poll taken in February that found that more than 90 per cent of Colombians are opposed to fracking in their country,

Another Reuters article notes that the top administrative court has said that four pilot projects can proceed – “one run by coal company Drummond and the others by oil companies Ecopetrol, Exxon Mobil and Conoco Phillips” – and that “work on the pilots, or at least the infrastructure required for them, could begin next year.”

Argus Media adds, “The first pilot projects are expected to take place in the Middle Magdalena Valley basin.” That’s a 34,000 square kilometre area in the departments of Santander, Boyacá, Cundinamarca and Tolima in north-central Colombia.

That article also notes, “Environmentalists grouped in an anti-fracturing alliance predicted a ‘long road’ to carrying out the pilot projects, as they are obligated to fulfill eight conditions, including access to information, strengthening of institutional capabilities and establishment of baseline social, environmental and health data.”

Both the Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP) and the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) are members of the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking, a coalition that includes a wide range of concerned groups.

On September 24, CCALCP and numerous other organizations signed this civil society statement expressing concern about the stigmatization of anti-fracking activists by former Colombian Vice-President Germán Vargas Lleras.

That statement highlights, “We demand that the Colombian government guarantee the rights of the people and organizations that are members of the Colombia Fracking Free Alliance to meet, express themselves and appeal for justice.”

Representatives from CCALCP and CREDHOS will be in Canada this coming November 2-10 to share their insights about environmental protection, fracking, human rights, the role of social leaders, and the peace process in Colombia.

For more, please see SPEAKING TOUR – Climate change, human rights and the struggle for peace in Colombia.

Photo by Gert Steenssens.

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