Environmental Groups Urge Mexican Senate To Ban Mining In Protected Areas
A coalition of environmental nonprofits is pushing Mexican lawmakers to pass a bill that would ban mining in protected areas.
On Tuesday, the groups presented the Mexican Senate with a petition urging them to approve reforms to an environmental law that would prohibit mining in federally designated Natural Protected Areas (ANP).
"We’re not asking for mining to cease to exist in Mexico, we’re asking for 13%-14% of the territory to be considered off-limits, because we’ve already designated it as protected, and that protection ought to mean something," said Juan Carlos Bravo, Mexico and borderlands program director for Wildlands Network, which has been pushing for the change.
"It is pretty straight forward: protected areas ought to be protected. That’s all we’re asking for," he said. "And if not, we might as well stop deluding ourselves and just say, 'You know, these places are not protected. They're not protected areas.'"
Mexico has very few public lands, which means most of the protected areas are a layer of regulations "on other people's land," Bravo said. And mining is currently within the limits of what is allowed on those lands.
"So that begs the question, 'What are we protecting them from,'" he said.
The proposed reform would not affect existing mines or mining land concessions on Mexico’s protected lands, but would ban new projects, Bravo said.
The bill has already passed in the lower chamber of Mexico’s Congress. Now, the senate’s environmental commission will need to assess the bill before the upper house can vote on it.