Published: Saturday 31 May 1997

The Chilean government has recently passed a new regulation making environmental impact studies (eis) obligatory for new projects. Consequently, some large projects that were previously approved by the government could now end up in court, say observers.

Chile, rich in natural resources, has had several industries which proved to be harmful for the country's environment. The Supreme Court in March overturned the government's approval of a forestry pro-ject and questioned the legal authority of conama (the government's environmental authority), forcing the government to pass the new regulation in April. The case involved a us $200 million-project run by the Washington-based Trillium Corporation to harvest and mill lenga, a wood native to Tierra del Fuego.
Fernando Dougnac, an environmental lawyer who won the Trillium case said, "The ruling gives citizens the right to file an injunction against a project when the government doesn't fulfil its obligations to protect the environment. The ruling said that the environment is the heritage of all citizens."

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