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Vague Promises Not Enough to Protect Peru Marine Reserve

WWF Calls on IADB to Withhold Funding Pending Changes

WASHINGTON - Guillermo Castilleja, World Wildlife Fund's vice president for Latin America, issued the following statement in response to Peru's announcement of an "environmental accord" to protect the Paracas marine reserve from serious ecological harm associated with the Camisea pipeline project. The Peruvian announcement comes on the eve of Wednesday's critical IABD vote on funding the project.

"The so-called 'environmental accord' signed by the government of Peru, the Inter-American Development Bank and other backers of the proposed Camisea gas pipeline will do very little to blunt the major environmental damage the project will inflict on one of the world's most important marine reserves.

"Vague promises to 'clean up the bay' where a large export terminal and fractionation plant will be built will not protect the Paracas marine reserve and do nothing to address the project's serious planning flaws.

"It is appalling that Peruvian environmentalists and other members of that country's civil society were not consulted about this 11th hour agreement. Even the environmental groups cited as supporters say they were not consulted. Under the circumstances, the accord seems more intended to insulate pipeline supporters from criticism of the project's shortcomings and to secure a favorable vote on funding than to protect a fragile natural treasure.

"This project should go forward only if the high risk fractionation plant and port are relocated to lower-risk sites outside the marine reserve. The IABD has the power to force pipeline supporters back to the negotiating table to keep the project alive without the risk to the environment.

"The Export-Import Bank has already turned down the project on environmental grounds. The IADB should do the same unless the shortcomings noted by the Ex-Im Bank are addressed. Approval of the project, when other lending institutions have already turned it down, would set an extremely negative precedent--both for conservation and the use of US taxpayer funding.