Chilean Dam Project Approved Amid Controversy

A plan approved to build a $7 billion dam in Chile has some worried about the loss of land, but others excited about looming economic opportunities.

"Monday's vote - 11 in favor and one abstention - could prove to be pivotal for the future of Chile, which has a booming economy, vast mineral wealth and a determination to join the elite group of first-world nations.

With its energy-intensive mining industry clamoring for more power and living standards improving, some analysts say Chile must triple its capacity in just 15 years, despite having no domestic oil or natural gas. Chile imports 97 percent of its fossil fuels and depends largely on hydropower for electricity, creating a crisis when droughts drain reservoirs or faraway disputes affect energy imports.

Supporters say the economic benefits of the dam project justify carving roads through the heart of Chile's remaining wilderness and running a thousand miles (1,600 kilometers) of transmission lines to power the capital, Santiago."

The dam project would only cause the relocation of three dozen families, but locals are concerned about the 14,000 acres of land that will be flooded and the forests that will be cut down to access the dams.

Full Story: Chile approves huge dam project on wild rivers, opening remote Patagonia to development

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