The opposition of the macrismo and the agribusiness and mining lobby managed to prevail and yesterday in the plenary session of commissions in the Chamber of Deputies of the Nation, it took out the majority opinion on the Wetlands Law project. The ruling party, although it added minority blocs, was left behind with the consensus project that environmental organizations and university specialists had prepared, and will take a minority text to the parliamentary precinct. Their own legislators from the mining provinces withdrew support and refrained from endorsing any of the projects. However, in the ruling party they rescued at least that this time, after nine years of lobbying and parliamentary indifference, they managed to get opinions and take the discussion to a next session so that Argentina finally has a wetland law.
Two long hours took up the debate of those who make up the Natural Resources, Budget and Agriculture commissions. The project originally outlined by the radical Ximena García from Santa Fe achieved the endorsement of 57 signatures, against 47 of the consensus project.
Now the aspiration of all is to give him half sanction of law before the end of the year. But along the way wounds and wounded remain. Especially in the street, where environmental groups made their rejection of the parliamentary opinion that prevailed felt.
García’s project, plus Jorge Vara (UCR) and Maximiliano Ferraro (CC), emphasizes avoiding restrictions on productive activity. He finally achieved the close support of JxC and other minorities.
The consensus project lost flight when the ruling party, with the author of the text, Leonardo Grosso, failed to attract a dozen legislators from the Front of All who demonstrated their alignment with the governors of their provinces of origin, crossed by mining activity . Peronist benches from La Rioja, Catamarca, Salta, Santiago del Estero, Mendoza and Formosa decided not to sign either one opinion or the other. And that decreed the official defeat in the final poroteo.
Both in the majority opinion and in the minority opinion there were signatures with partial dissidence, as was the case of the Rosario socialist Enrique Estévez, who signed the consensus project in that way.
Now the clock is running until December 30, when the period of extension of the ordinary sessions will end in which the law can have half sanction and go to the Senate, to be discussed next year.
When the panorama already painted of defeat for the aspirations of the FdT, and of the environmental militancy on the outskirts of Congress, the president of the ruling party, Germán Martínez, chose to value at least that the parliamentary procedure now does go towards the sanction of some norm, after a decade of postponements.
“The two opinions that we are dealing with are going to mark the vocation, not unanimous, but widely majority, that we have a Wetlands Law in Argentina”, pondered the legislator for Santa Fe.
Two hours of arguments had passed on either side of the environmental rift. Florencia Lampreabe (FdT Buenos Aires) opened fire. “They only come to oppose because they can,” she remarked. “We are not going to swallow the interests of a bosses’ chamber like nothing, because in the name of production we need a wetlands law,” she stressed.
Ferraro (Civic Coalition) picked up the ball and returned: “Our alternative ruling seeks a logical, reasonable balance, through a responsible approach to the diversity of the situation that exists around wetlands throughout the country. Having a law is to provide predictability to all the sectors involved, to be able to develop in a sustainable way and valuing the benefits that wetlands provide us. A law is legal certainty when it comes to promoting projects and investments, by providing certainty about how each of the activities can be carried out, and thus dispelling the ghost of judicialization and conflict.”
Rosario Eduardo Toniolli said: “We don’t want just any wetland law, not a declamatory make-up, but one that gives the states the necessary tools for effective control of their territory.” Along these lines, he refuted the idea put forward by the opposition lobby that the consensus project “is anti-productivist, prohibitionist,” and that there is no need for a wetland law because there are numerous environmental protection laws that have yet to be enforced.
“The first is a lie, there is no contradiction between production and care for the environment, the project is regulationist, not prohibitionist. The second is a half-truth. In any case, there is a contradiction in those who defend that everything continues as it is and that the that commits crimes against common property can continue to commit crimes, and those of us who believe that the State must be provided with tools to make effective those other laws that are not complied with. Our proposal for a wetland law is that tool: inventory, land use planning, permanent monitoring, national inventory fund,” he said. “The burning in the Paraná delta is an example of the aberrant lack of state control,” he concluded.
The radical ruralist Ricardo Buryaile insisted that the matter to be legislated “has three legs: social, environmental and economic, and there must be a balance for it to work.”
Estévez intervened in the middle: “I don’t think we have to continue insisting on the idea of defending what is productive as something contradictory to caring for the environment. We have to rethink it because there will not be enough money to mitigate the consequences.”
Germana Figueroa Casas, from PRO Santa Fe valued: “I think a balanced opinion was achieved, a criticism that was made to the other opinion that had not been able to listen to other options, such is the case of production. Now, I hope there are no false expectations that due to a law there will be no more fires, this is so that there are clear rules, ”she stopped.
The Wetlands Law is a citizen initiative presented for the first time in 2013, which has already obtained two half sanctions by the Senate (2013 and 2016), but could never be approved in the Chamber of Deputies.