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Chile high court rejects thermoelectric power plant citing environmental concerns

The Supreme Court of Chile [official website] on Wednesday rejected a plan to build a thermoelectric power plant in the Atacama region of the country, citing concern about potential pollution. The high court rejected the plan, overturning the environmental license of the Central Castilla thermal power plant, a joint venture between Brazilian company MPX Energia [corporate website, in Portuguese] and German company E.ON [corporate website], out of concern that the planned power plant would "harm the constitutional guarantee that one can live in an environment free of pollution." The high court said it will allow the companies to resubmit their plan following completion of an environmental impact study. However, it is unclear whether MPX and E.ON will choose to do so. In a statement [text, in Portuguese], MPX said that "in light of the decision of the Supreme Court of Chile, the company will reassess their business strategy in Chile."

The environmental impact of power plants has been at issue in Chile recently. In April the Supreme Court of Chile ruled that a hydroelectric dam in Patagonia does not violate the constitutional rights [JURIST report] of the environmental groups opposing the project. The HidroAysen [project website, in Spanish], a private Chilean venture, seeks to build five dams whose construction was approved [Huffington Post report] by the Chilean government in May 2011. In June 2011 a Chilean appeals court ordered the temporary suspension [JURIST report] of the USD $10 billion HidroAysen project, approving three petitions challenging government authorization of the dam construction and granted the plaintiffs' petition for injunction. The court lifted the temporary suspension [Reuters report] in October 2011 allowing work on the project to move forward and spurring a constitutional challenge by environmentalists.

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