The Ministry of Environment and Energy was categorical in expressing its opposition to the exploitation of geothermal energy in National Parks, according to a press release issued by the public institution.
Franz Tattenbach, The Minister of Environment and Energy, reasserted to the Legislative Assembly that MINAE is against the exploration, exploitation, and use of geothermal resources for energy generation in National Parks or Protected Wildlife Areas, such as the Guanacaste National Park, Tenorio Volcano National Park, and Arenal Volcano National Park.
“It goes against the regulations for the creation and protection of the National Parks of Costa Rica and changes the vision and destiny, which our country has protected with great success in the conservation of natural resources,” explained the institution in the communiqué.
The Ministry is also opposed to Bill 21244, filed in February 2019, which would grant ICE the possibility to exploit geothermal resources, and is currently in the legislative stream.
“Although electricity production is a public service that benefits the entire population, exploiting geothermal energy is a commercial activity. This opens serious loopholes so that the National Parks are seen as reserves of resources that can then be exploited commercially, including resources such as water. Given the seriousness of these facts, we are totally against it,” stressed Tattenbach.
“In addition, the construction of infrastructure at the subsoil level is to allow a change of land use, which is expressly prohibited and would further compromise the National Parks,” he continued.
The benefits of National Parks include recreation and tourism, nature conservation, scientific research, public education, conservation of historical and archeological areas, and watershed protection. They can be used for recreational, scientific, social, cultural, and economic purposes, but commercial exploitation is not permitted.
In addition, National Parks are part of the Natural Heritage of the State and are under limitations of use, domain, and disposition. This means that the change of land use for commercial exploitation is prohibited.
“At this time, our country cannot justify the need to supply even more energy since there is an oversupply. This means that the country has not yet been able to resolve how to place this surplus in the national electricity market, much less in the regional electricity market,” points out MINAE.
Therefore, according to the institution, there is no technical justification to sustain this opening of energy extraction in National Parks nor to allow ICE to generate more energy than necessary.