SEIA’s Modernization a column by Ignacio Urbina, senior partner at Barros & Errázuriz
News | July 2, 2019
On Tuesday, July 2, 2019, the column by our senior partner in regulated sectors, Ignacio Urbina, was published in El Diario Financiero, regarding the process of modernization of the Environmental Impact Assessment System. We leave part of the column. To check the full text, enter here
“There is no doubt that environmental institutions have shown important shortcomings in recent years: slowness, unpredictability, instability and excessive politicization are some of the terms that summarize the most common criticisms, which is why the project of modernization to the evaluation system of environmental impact (SEIA) is so important. The sending of a new bill to the Congress, which took place last week (with the consequent withdrawal of the previous 2018 project), is a timely opportunity to reflect on the SEIA and its challenges.
In the first place, it seems right that it has been decided to eliminate the anticipated citizen participation and the creation of Macrozonal Commissions of the legislative proposal. This, because for different reasons there was a legitimate political disagreement about the convenience and opportunity of such innovations, so maintaining them would have hindered the legislative process. This would have delayed other more urgent reforms, such as the elimination of the Committee of Ministers or the possibility of administratively invalidating the Environmental Qualification Resolutions (RCA).}
On the Committee of Ministers, experience has demonstrated its failure repeatedly. Whether due to the slowness in adopting the agreements (in some cases, after years of waiting), the limited technical capacity of the body (composed of political authorities, usually without training and time to study the complex environmental records), and their vulnerability. In the face of political tensions (Dominga mine and Hidroaysén power plant), the outcome announced by Minister Carolina Schmidt this week is confirmed: a high degree of judicialization. Consequently, the suppression of the Committee of Ministers would eliminate an administrative instance that, rather than solving the problems of litigation, has been delaying […] “.