Environmentalists Disrupt Trade Conference in Atlanta US Government: Don't "Fast-Track" the Destruction of the Amazon & Our Climate

AMAZON WATCH

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Atlanta, Georgia - Demanding an end to "fast-track" destruction of the Amazon and the Earth's climate, environmentalists today disrupted a US government-sponsored conference designed to promote US investment in Latin America. In protest of Clinton's request for "fast-track" authority, activists unfurled a banner and sounded off alarm bells inside the conference room this morning at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel. The vote on fast-track is scheduled for Friday, November 7.

The US Trade and Development Agency-sponsored conference "Infrastructure Opportunities in South America" held at the Westin Peachtree Hotel in Atlanta November 5-7, is promoting $6.4 billion in new gas production and $8.4 billion in new oil production for Latin American countries. Among the projects being showcased in Atlanta are at least five with serious impacts on the Amazon rainforest – including the Camisea gas fields and pipeline (Peru); the Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline (Brazil and Bolivia); the Petrozuata heavy crude facility (Venezuela's Orinoco River Basin); the Lajeado Dam (Brazil); and the Tocantins-Araguaia Waterway (Brazil).

With "fast-track" authority, corporations cutting deals at the Atlanta conference will have even more government backing to drill new oil and gas reserves, dredge and dam rivers, and destroy the Amazon with no meaningful environmental safeguards. "Clinton's "fast-track" leads to Amazon destruction and accelerates climate change. What we need to fast-track is the transition to clean renewable energy and the protection of carbon sinks such as the Amazon," said Atossa Soltani, director of Amazon Watch, one of the participants in today's protest.

The Amazon is the largest rainforest on the planet and acts as a vital "sink" for greenhouse gases, slowing the pace of climate change. Deforestation and unbridled exploitation of fossil fuels are two of the leading causes of climate change. Clinton has called climate change one of the most important challenges of his presidency while a unanimous resolution passed by the Senate calls on developing countries to also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

"If President Clinton really cares about climate change – and wants developing countries to reduce their emissions – then why is he greasing the skids for more oil and gas drilling in Latin America? Why is he condoning, with US taxpayer dollars, the destruction of the Amazon rainforest?" asked Daphne Wysham of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies.

The directors of the Inter-American Development Bank, the US Export-Import Bank, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation were attending the Atlanta conference; as providers of government-backed financing. "This conference reveals who the real winners will be if Clinton gets 'fast track' authority: the oil companies, and other wealthy corporations" said Soltani. "The Amazon rainforest, US taxpayers, and future.

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