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Brazil judge suspends construction on Amazon dam

The Brazilian Regional Federal Court for the First Region (TRF1) [official website, in Portuguese] on Tuesday suspended [press release, in Portuguese] construction on the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil's Amazon rain forest on grounds that environmental commitments have not been met. The decision is summarized in a statement on the court's website, detailing Judge Antonio Souza Prudente's suspension of the project's environmental license in addition to the suspension of construction. The decision also imposes a fine of R$500,000 for a breach in its terms. Souza Prudente agreed with the argument that the original license did not remain valid after construction violated environmental standards. In its consideration to grant the preliminary injunction, the TRF1 reasoned that the environmental impacts already negatively affected communities because of social tension due to the increased migration to the region and decreased quality of natural resources. Construction on the Belo Monte Dam can only resume once the Norte Energia [official website] consortium that is building the dam honors its commitments.

In August 2012 a judge in Brazil ruled [JURIST report] that construction on the Belo Monte Dam must stop until local indigenous communities were allowed to voice their opinions on the environmental impact of the dam. The Brazilian government declared [BBC report] that the dam would help make Brazil more self-sufficient in energy. However, many environmental and indigenous rights groups have condemned the project [CBC report], arguing that the dam will destroy wildlife and displace thousands of residents in the Amazon. In his earlier decision, Souza Prudente ordered that the Brazilian government must consult with native communities [CNN report] before any further construction on the dam proceeds.

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