The Constitutional Court found a Wayúu indigenous community’s rights to health and a healthy environment being affected by coal mining operations, ordered the Cerrejón mining company to implement several preventative, mitigation, and corrective measures, and ordered government authorities to implement effective regulatory and enforcement measures, while ensuring the Wayúu community’s participation rights.
Although the initial coal-mining operations were authorized in 1983, which makes them and subsequent modifications (including the proposed modification to expand operations by diverting Arroyo Bruno) exempt from the current legal framework requiring and governing environmental impact assessment (in accordance with the transitional legal framework contemplated in Law 99 of 1993), the Constitutional Court determined that the impacts of the stream-diversion project have not been sufficiently assessed to guarantee the affected communities’ rights to water, food, and health. The Court concluded that there are several uncertainties regarding the social and environmental impacts of the stream-diversion project and the potential threats they pose to the affected communities’ rights to water, food security, and health due to the authorities’ failure to adequately identify or estimate relevant variables before authorizing the stream-diversion project. Thus, the Court upheld a lower court’s injunction suspending activities related to the stream-diversion project until the following orders are complied with by a judicially created Inter-Institutional Workgroup composed of governmental and non-governmental actors: (1) ensure the participation in said Workgroup of civil society and academic actors that intervened in the judicial proceedings; (2) identify and assess the uncertainties related to the stream-diversion project in order to establish the measures that should be adopted; (3) within a month of notification of this sentence, develop a detailed schedule of the activities to be carried out, as well as the specific actor responsible for carrying out each activity, in order to identify and assess the uncertainties related to the stream-diversion project; (4) in case the Workgroup determines the stream-diversion project is environmentally viable, incorporate the conclusions resulting from its technical study of uncertainties into Cerrejón’s Integral Management Plan so that Cerrejón adopts measures to prevent, mitigate, control, compensate, and correct environmental and social impacts.
The Supreme Court of Chile determined that the list of projects enumerated in the EIA regulations is not exhaustive, that any project that causes negative environmental impacts may be subject to citizen participation procedures, and that Mina Invierno’s project to incorporate blasting methods will cause negative environmental impacts and, therefore, may be subject to citizen participation procedures. Thus, the Supreme Court declared invalid the administrative resolutions that rejected the petitions for citizen participation procedures for the project to incorporate blasting methods and ordered the EIA process for said project to be subject to citizen participation procedures.
Chile's Supreme Court decided that the impacts of a coastal coal-fired power plant threatened the plaintiffs' and the larger fishing community's constitutional right to live in an environment free from contamination and ordered Endesa and government authorities to take measures necessary to protect marine species.
Complex litigation seeking remediation of environmental damages from large-scale coal mining in which Brazil's Superior Court of Justice held the mining companies strictly liable and the federal government jointly liable with a duty to make the companies pay for remediation while concluding that the owners and managers of the companies have supplemental liability if the companies can't fulfill duty to remedy environmental damages and concluding that collective actions for environmental remediation are not subject to statutes of limitations.
This project has been made possible by the generous
support of the Philip Stoddard Brown and Adele Smith Brown Foundation