Tag Archives: energy

Bolivia and its Lithium: The Next Saudi Arabia? (via The COHA Blog)

5 Jul

Bolivia and Brazil seem to have this conundrum in common: both are on the verge of massive mineral wealth– Brazil with oil, Bolivia with Lithium–and both are still emerging democracies with spotty, if not weak governmental institutions.

A book by Terry Lynn Karl of Stanford University called “The Paradox of Plenty” does a noble job of explaining why countries with ample mineral wealth paradoxically tend to become refuges for corruption and inequality, a la Nigeria, Venezuela, Angola, Russia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and so forth. One might add that countries with limited experiences with democracy and inchoate or weak institutions may be more susceptible to the afflictions of corruption and inequality. This is a great post by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

Bolivia and its Lithium: The Next Saudi Arabia? Bolivian Salt Flat Salar de Uyuni According to Bolivian Aymara legend, there once lived a Vulcan Goddess whose breast had grown tired from nurturing her suckling babe.  To relieve her sore nipple, she ripped the child from her teat, and out poured a deluge of milk, which promptly mixed with her tears as the flow spilled across the landscape.  While her actions in this legend may have been hasty, they created the lithium rich Salar de Uyuni, a 10, … Read More

via The COHA Blog

61 Hydro-Electric Dams Threaten Amazon, Forests

10 Jan

I was surprised and delighted by Jornal Globo’s gutsy report (portuguese) on the 61 hydro electric plants planned from here until 2019, which will destroy 5300 square kilometers of forest– an area approximately four times the size of São Paulo, South America’s largest city. The hydro projects will require 7700 kilometers of transmission wires, and will therefore also require the construction of roads and settlements, a further threat to Brazil’s forests. The proposed hydro projects will generate 42 kilowatts of electricity and most of the dams will be funded by Brazil’s giant development bank, the BNDES.

According to Globo, 15 of the proposed hydro-project will interfere directly with protected areas, and 13 of the projects will interfere directly or indirectly with indigenous reserves. The project is part of the PAC-2, President Dilma’s “Program for Accelerated Growth.” No environmental assessments have been performed. Globo reports that a Federal Defender (from the Ministry of Public Defense– Ministério Público Federal (MPF) from Pará state, Felício Pontes Jr., calls the government’s electric utility, Electrobras, “the government’s biggest black box,” because little public information has been made available on ambitious electricity projects planned or currently underway.

Although Electrobras is 52 percent owned by government, it is a publicly traded company (traded on the Bovespa) and is Latin America’s largest power utility. Indigenous resistance against hydro-projects in Brazil has been ongoing.