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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Legislature Moves to Ban Oil Drilling in Costa Rica

The Environmental Commission of the Legislative Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday to prohibit the exploration and exploitation of gas and oil in Costa Rica. The bill will now be up for discussion prior to the first debate.

The proposed law consists of two articles. The first one emphasizes that the State has “absolute, inalienable and imprescriptible dominion over the sources and deposits of oil and any other hydrocarbon substances existing in the national territory, soil and subsoil, continental and marine”.

The second article declares Costa Rica as a “territory free of oil and gas exploration and exploitation”. Likewise, it prohibits the authorization of permits or concessions related to the search and exploitation of these resources.

Congresswoman Kattia Cambronero indicated that the country should not make unnecessary investments to regress in its economic model based on sustainability and environmental protection. She emphasized that talking about oil exploration and exploitation in Costa Rica is an old discourse that lacks technical justifications.

Daniela Rojas, PUSC representative, advocated focusing national efforts on increasing its clean energy matrix, from renewable and environmentally sustainable sources.

Congresswoman Rosalía Brown, representative for the province of Limón, mentioned that she voted against the initiative, as she believes the environmental protection model followed by the country has not translated into development opportunities for the inhabitants of the coasts.

“I believe in protecting the environment and so do my people, but they have also been abandoned,” she said.

The oil moratorium was declared for the first time in 2002 by then President Abel Pacheco; then it was extended by Laura Chinchilla in 2011; Luis Guillermo Solís in 2014, and Carlos Alvarado in 2019.

President Rodrigo Chaves has reiterated his administration’s interest in carrying out studies to know with certainty the size of the country’s reserves and the economic impact that an eventual exploitation of the resources would have.

To advance in this route, the Executive Branch requested the collaboration of the Norwegian Government to carry out analyses by means of non-intrusive technology, that is to say, technology that does not require drilling to monitor the soils.

However, to date, the government has not reported on the progress of its talks and the request made to Norway.

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