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Costa Rica President Proposes Exploring Natural Gas Extraction

On Wednesday, during the press conference held after the Council of Government meeting, the President of Costa Rica asserted that exploring and exploiting natural gas in the country should be on the table.

Rodrigo Chaves emphasized that Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainability remains strong. He believes it’s possible to undertake this activity without causing environmental damage. Pointing to Norway, he highlighted how a country can adeptly extract such resources while still preserving nature.

“For those who argue that gas extraction is inherently harmful to Mother Nature and cannot be conducted in an environmentally friendly manner, I have one word for them: Norway,” stated Chaves.

Chaves also mentioned that Norway boasts the world’s largest reserves and has successfully tapped into its gas supply. Such abundance means Norway could theoretically “spend many, many years without levying a single tax, while still funding public services, disbursing pensions, and investing in infrastructure.”

The President conveyed his belief that Costa Rica is a “blessed” nation, endowed with vast natural resources that should be harnessed judiciously.

“We must carefully assess these resources. This is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and as a nation, we should discuss its potential,” Chaves added.

Prohibitions

Historically, past administrations enacted moratoriums on the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas. Specifically, both oil and gas exploration and exploitation are prohibited until 2050, a restriction put in place by a presidential decree. However, any subsequent president could overturn this decision.

The most recent moratorium was instituted in 2019 by then-President Carlos Alvarado and applies to both mainland and offshore activities.

Moreover, Costa Rica initially established a moratorium during the tenure of ex-President Abel Pacheco in 2019. Subsequent extensions were made by the administrations of Laura Chinchila, Luis Guillermo Solís, and finally, Carlos Alvarado.

Under Alvarado’s leadership, the moratorium was prolonged until 2050. This extension aligned with the National Decarbonization Plan, aiming to eliminate fossil fuel usage by 2050, thus bolstering the adoption of clean energy solutions to tackle the climate crisis.

Different Opinions

Luis Amador Jiménez, the Minister of Public Works and Transportation, expressed his approval of the proposal. He suggests that the revenues from such ventures could be funneled into infrastructure projects like road construction, maintenance, and overall system enhancements.

Former Congressman Jonathan Prendas concurred, emphasizing that this avenue is worth exploring for the country’s benefit.

Conversely, PLP legislator Kattia Cambronero Aguiluz voiced her concerns, arguing that the proposal lacked merit. She highlighted potential risks, explaining that natural gas extraction can contaminate both ground and surface waters and may lead to leaks during distribution and compression.

Lastly, Carlos Alvarado took to Twitter to voice his disagreement with the current government’s proposition.

“Millions endure the brunt of record temperatures, floods, and wildfires globally. In this context, some politicians and business leaders propose that Costa Rica, an environmental beacon, should exploit natural gas. If we envision a sustainable future, we must resist such overtures,” he tweeted.

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