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​Impact Assessment: Brazil Decree Clarifies Federal Environmental Agency Power to License Major Projects

Impact Assessment
Brazil Decree Clarifies Federal Environmental
Agency Power to License Major Projects

May 11 — A decree from Brazil's president clarifies that the federal government has environmental oversight over major infrastructure projects whose licensing had been under state jurisdiction, environmental lawyers told Bloomberg BNA.

The decree implements 2011 law (LC 140) that defines whether federal, state or municipal environmental agencies will handle licensing based on a project's location and the extent of its environmental impact (34 INER 1068, 11/9/11).

The decree (No. 8,437), signed by President Dilma Rousseff and Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, took effect April 23.

The law gives the federal government—through IBAMA, the country's environmental watchdog and the licensing arm of the Environment Ministry—the power to license projects that stretch beyond one state or involve federally owned or protected lands,
indigenous areas, the seacoast or nuclear power. It also can license such projects within a single state, if the environmental affects of the project extend to a neighboring state. 

Under the decree, an IBAMA environmental license also will be required for:
• creating, widening or repaving any interstate highway longer than 200 kilometers (124 miles);
• creating, widening or deepening any interstate waterway of 200 kilometers or longer;
• creating or widening interstate railways;
• hydropower and thermopower projects with installed capacity of 300 megawatts or more;
• offshore wind-power projects;
• conventional offshore oil and gas exploration and production;
• nonconventional onshore or offshore oil and natural gas exploration and production, including hydraulic fracturing.
“The decree's intention is to give IBAMA back some licensing jurisdiction that it lost with LC 140, and thus gives the federal agency a greater say in the licensing of major infrastructure projects,” environmental attorney Rafael Feldmann, with the Mattos Filho law firm, told Bloomberg BNA.

For More Information
Decree No. 8,437 is available, in Portuguese, at
Ver notícias do escritório