Moral Low Ground


Brazilian Judge Blocks Amazon Dam Construction

Citing environmental concerns and unmet environmental requirements, Brazilian federal judge Ronaldo Desterro has blocked construction of the Belo Monte Dam, a centerpiece of new President Dilma Rousseff’s energy plan. According to the BBC, Judge Desterro has also barred the country’s development bank, BNDES, from funding the Amazon dam project.

Environmentalists and indigenous groups are staunchly opposed to the dam, which would be located in the northern state of Pará, because it will displace as many as 50,000 people and damage the world’s largest tropical rainforest. The 11,000-megawatt dam would be the world’s third largest and would most likely disrupt the flow of the Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon.

The Brazilian government says the Belo Monte Dam is necessary for the country’s development. It would create many jobs as well as provide 23 million homes with electricity.

But opponents say the price is too high. Celebrities such as Avatar director James Cameron and the singer Sting have lent their names, time and energy to the anti-dam cause. The battle over Belo Monte has been raging for years, with previous court-ordered injunctions against construction always overturned.

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