The Governor of Mendoza, Rodolfo Suárez, endorsed the reform of the law that protects the water of his province, to end the ban on the use of cyanide and other toxic substances and to remove the need for the Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) For metal mining projects, it must be ratified by the provincial legislative body. This modification implies a setback in the levels of environmental protection.

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Law 7722 in force in the province of Mendoza began to take shape in 2005 when, in the face of the interest of mining companies to settle in the Uco Valley, residents began to inform themselves and mobilize in defense of water. The law was approved by the Mendoza legislature in 2007 and ratified by the Mendoza Supreme Court in 2015 before about ten requests for unconstitutionality filed by mining companies. This law does not prohibit mining, but prohibits in the territory of the province of Mendoza, the use of chemical substances such as cyanide, mercury, sulfuric acid, and other similar toxic substances in mining processes, in pursuit of water protection and of agriculture

The draft modification of the law of Governor Rodolfo Suárez, seeks to introduce changes in the essential articles of the law, proposes to eliminate the prohibition of the use of chemical substances –except for mercury- and toxic substances “in metal mining mining processes, prospecting, exploration, exploitation and / or industrialization of metal ores ”; on the other hand, it seeks to remove the need for the Declaration of Environmental Impact (DIA) for metal mining projects to have to be ratified by the provincial legislative body. It aims to promote large-scale metal mining activity in the province of Mendoza.

This modification not only violates the environment as an integral legal good, but also implies the violation of the principles that order the environmental microsystem, in particular the principles of irretroactivity and progressivity established in the General Environment Law (Law 25.675), meaning a setback in the levels of protection already existing in the province. To this must be added the lack of water suffered by the Mendoza area, attentive to the fact that it has a water emergency declaration for more than ten years. The right to water constitutes a basic human right, a fundamental public good for life and health insofar as it is a necessary condition for the enjoyment of other human rights. Thus, in protection of this human right, it is that law 7722 was enacted that today the Mendoza government intends to modify.

It is a primary duty of legislators to listen to citizens who have been mobilizing for years and expressing their rejection of this project during these days. As the Superior Court of Justice of Mendoza will express, the Mendoza decided by law 7722 the productive model they want to develop, it is the right of each society to decide, define and manage the way it adopts to progress. Given these circumstances, we express our concern and rejection of the attempt of the Government of the province to modify the current law.

Author

Maria Laura Carrizo

Contact

Juan Bautista Lopez, juanbautistalopez@fundeps.org