Government introduces bill that modernizes the Environmental Impact Assessment System in Chile

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

This press release from Chile's lower house was published using an automatic translation system.

The awaited project of the Government that comes to modernize the System of Environmental Evaluation (SEIA) was formally entered to legislative procedure to the Chamber of Deputies and made known in the account of the Chamber of the Corporation on the day of today.

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The presidential message recognizes the importance of the SEIA as an instrument of environmental management in Chile, especially when incorporating this topic into the projects or activities that must be evaluated. But he observes, however, that 20 years after its entry into force and eight years after the last major reform, its institutionality has fallen into the public's critique.

The proposal (bulletin 11952) is to modernize the SEIA, introducing rules that guarantee "sustainable development, promote citizen participation and give greater confidence to all actors in society."

As indicated in the bill, a first objective is to shorten to a minimum the instances of political decision, modifying for it the conformation of the Commission of Environmental Evaluation of regional nature. Thus, it is proposed to create three macrozonal commissions composed of authorities that are knowledgeable about the matters on which they will have to make their statements and by technical actors, restricting the political factor.

Another modification seeks to raise the technical standard of evaluation processes through the creation of three macrozonal directions: North, based in Antofagasta; Center, based in Santiago; and South, based in Valdivia.

In addition, the claim instance before the Committee of Ministers or the executive director of the Environmental Assessment Service is eliminated, contemplating a recourse of judicial claim before the environmental courts; and a special clarification resource is established, for purposes that project proponents and the citizens who participated in the procedure may go before the same body that dictated the act, in order to clarify obscure passages of the administrative act.

The project also contemplates the expansion of spaces for citizen participation and seeks equal access to environmental justice.