General Environmental Licensing Law

The issue of environmental licensing in Brazil has been under discussion in the National Congress for over 15 years. In the last 2 years, PL 3729/2004 was widely debated by a Working Group coordinated by deputy Kim Kataguiri (DEM / SP). Unofficially designated as interlocutor of the proposal's convergence work, Kataguiri gathered representatives from different sectors in the search for consensus to make it possible to vote on the matter.

Despite not having the competence to approve or reject any text, the WG had the objective of contributing to the construction of minimally consensual content that could be submitted to the Plenary of the Chamber. Deputy Kim Kataguiri even presented 4 versions of the base text, with the 4th and last version published, presented in August 2019, being the target of criticism from environmental organizations and parliamentarians. It was alleged that there were setbacks and serious flexibilities in the licensing process. Kataguiri indicated that he would present a 5th version of the opinion in 2020. However, the text was never published.

The deputy claimed, in 2020, that he was in the final stages of the negotiations, having achieved relevant advances, especially in the standardization of concepts, classification of the types of licensing envisaged, digitization and transparency of the process, definition of standards of conditions and proportionality of environmental compensations.

It is worth mentioning that Congressman Rodrigo Agostinho (PSB / SP), coordinator of the Parliamentary Environmentalist Front, reiterated that the text was at an advanced stage and had included some of the main controversial points, such as: Strategic Environmental Assessment; Economic-Ecological Zoning; unification of phases; Membership and Commitment License; and simplification of processes for the sanitation sector.

Still in 2020, the then mayor, deputy Rodrigo Maia (DEM / RJ) signaled the possibility of guiding the project in Plenary, but ended up not proceeding with the process.

NEW MOVEMENTS

The proposition was included by the Bolsonaro government among the legislative priorities this year. The theme is also considered a priority by the Agricultural Parliamentary Front, which is close to the President of the House, deputy Arthur Lira (PP / AL).

In 2021, the project reached the rapporteur of Deputy Neri Geller (PP / MT) with important advances. Vice-president of the Parliamentary Front of Agriculture (FPA), Geller was part of the WG that discussed PL 3729/04 in 2019 and is somewhat familiar with the proposition.

The rapporteur acknowledged the work done by Kim Kataguiri and went so far as to say that he will use much of what has already been developed to build his report. The deputy stated that he sees the current text as a mature proposal to be voted on, but still intends to elaborate a work schedule and discuss the issue again with the interested parties. According to Geller, the intention is to have the text voted on in the next 90 days.

Since he was appointed rapporteur on March 16, the deputy claims to have held meetings with the government leader in the Chamber, Deputy Ricardo Barros (PP / PR), with members of the Casa Civil and with indigenous communities. In addition, Geller has already met with the following authorities:

  • 03/23: Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, with no published agenda.
  • 03/24: Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Tereza Cristina, to deal specifically with PL 3729/2004.
  • 03/24: Minister of Infrastructure, Tarcísio Freitas, with no published agenda.
  • 03/30: Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Regional Development, Claudio Xavier Seefelder Filho, with no published agenda.

In the coming weeks, the deputy intends to continue the dialogues with the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, and with the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA).

When considering the relevance of the Environmental Licensing Regulatory Framework and, also, taking into account that Brazilian agribusiness is one of the most internationally charged for sustainability indicators in a context of global mobilization to contain the climate crisis, it is likely that the rapporteur seeks to maintain the minimum consensus between the ruralist and environmentalist fronts and preserve the points previously agreed in the 2019 debates.  

The priority given to the agenda and the proximity of the Agricultural Front with the mayor may help to advance the project. However, it is worth mentioning that around 250 civil society organizations released a document asking the mayors of the House and the Senate to concentrate their efforts on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and not dedicate themselves to controversial legislative proposals. Environmental organizations also criticize the possibility that the proposal may be based on the House Plenary in a virtual session, which does not allow the full expression of society.

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