Greenpeace and other organizations in court against the Argentine State for offshore exploration

Diego Izquierdo (Greenpeace)

The Argentine Association of Environmental Lawyers and Greenpeace, together with the organizations Surfrider Argentina, Fundación Patagonia Natural, Kula Earth, Asociación de Surf Argentina, Organización Mar, Asociación de Surf Necochea Quequén, the Asociación de General Alvarado de Surf (Miramar) and Ecos de Mar, presented a amparo action and precautionary measure against the Argentine State, the Secretary of Energy of the Nation and the Ministry of the Environment of the Nation for the authorization of offshore exploration operations in the Argentine Sea. It was presented this Thursday in Federal Court No. 2, of the city of Mar del Plata.

The organizations demand that the unconstitutionality and nullity of the Resolution 436/2021, which approves the realization of the seismic exploration project in CAN blocks 100, 108 and 114, due to their impact on the sea, biodiversity and climate.

“We make this climate demand because it is essential for the well-being of present and future generations. Opening a new oil frontier in the Argentine Sea violates national and international laws and contradicts the acquired climate commitments. Continuing to invest in hydrocarbons only deepens the climate emergency that we are already experiencing and seriously violates the right of citizens to a healthy environment ”, they stated.

Seismic exploration, the first stage for offshore exploitation, works by firing underwater with air cannons that create very powerful sounds and cause an impact in more than 300,000 km2, an area equivalent to the entire province of Buenos Aires. This practice is very harmful for the Argentine Sea as it impacts on its biodiversity, such as the southern right whale, dolphins, killer whales, sea lions and penguins that are exposed to disorientation, changes in their behavior, stress, hearing impairment, massive injuries. and even death by drowning.

According to what was stated in the document, it will be the first time that offshore hydrocarbon drilling is carried out in deep and ultra-deep waters in the Argentine Sea, which implies activity at 4,000 meters deep in an area where the Malvinas and Malvinas currents converge. of Brazil, an area of ​​strong currents, which implies a great challenge due to oceanographic and meteorological conditions. Therefore, they will make the operation more difficult and the risk of accidents will also increase. Added to this is the lack of local experience in this type of drilling.

Recently, the Environment Ministry confirmed that there are another 14 requests in progress to carry out seismic and exploratory drilling in blocks awarded in the first bidding round, some previously awarded and even on others that were left void from this round.

The requests correspond to 23 blocks: 15 from the North Argentina Basin, 4 from the Austral Basin and 4 from the West Malvinas Basin. This implies a total of 135,000 km2, that is, an area equivalent to Santa Fe. This includes the three oil blocks (CAN 100, 108 and 114) where the Norwegian capital company is authorized to drill this year in partnership with Shell and YPF. and covering 24,500 km2, similar to the area of ​​Tucumán. These permits were granted without a cumulative and prospective Environmental Impact Assessment, without the instance of a public hearing and ignoring the damage to biodiversity, ecosystems, and coastal communities.

The blocks under exploration CAN 100, CAN 108 and CAN 114 overlap with the Slope, a priority area for the conservation of biodiversity. Fishing and tourism depend on it in a large part of the Atlantic coast throughout all of Patagonia.

Within the area of ​​influence of the Argentina Norte, Colorado, Claromecó and del Salado basins (those near the province of Buenos Aires, Río Negro and north of Chubut) there are three areas that have been identified to be declared Marine Areas in the future Protected (AMP), Rincón, Front Platform and Marine System of the Río de la Plata.

A good one in Justice

A Mar del Plata prosecutor issued an opinion in favor of the cessation and / or suspension of seismic prospecting and oil exploitation activities. It was in the framework of two amparo actions filed against the National Government.

The amparo actions were filed by a citizen and the Organization of Self-convened Environmentalists. The head of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office No. 1 of Mar del Plata, Laura Mazzaferri, ruled in favor of granting the precautionary measures that requested the cessation and / or suspension of seismic exploration activities, oil exploitation and other related works, against the coasts of the General Pueyrredón Party, which were opportunely arranged by the National Government through the Decree 900/21 and approved by the Resolution No. 436/21 of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Nation, until a strategic environmental evaluation is carried out and strict compliance with all regulatory provisions on environmental matters, both nationally and internationally.

In its opinions, the prosecutor Mazzaferri considered that, beyond their differences, both actions address noise pollution from seismic exploration activity and the lack of an impartial environmental impact study in relation to exploration and eventual exploitation, which includes in addition all the potentially harmful edgings of the activity reported.

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