STF resumes judgment on deforestation in Bolsonaro government today

The Federal Supreme Court (STF) resumes today, from 2 pm, the judgment of two actions that discuss whether the government of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) is silent on deforestation in the Amazon. The lawsuits are part of the so-called “green agenda”, a set of seven actions against environmental policies in force in the country that the Court has selected to analyze in the coming weeks.

The processes on the agenda today were opened by opposition parties. In the oldest one, from 2019, the Network alleged the omission of Bolsonaro and former minister Ricardo Salles in protecting the Amazon rainforest. In the other action, seven parties accuse the government of abandoning the PPCDAm (Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon), which had been in operation since 2004.

The topic has already occupied two sessions of the Court. Minister Cármen Lúcia, rapporteur of the actions, began to present her vote last Thursday, after the manifestations of the parties’ lawyers, the AGU (Attorney General’s Office) and the PGR (Attorney General’s Office). The reading of the opinion will be completed today, and then the other ministers will vote.

It is not yet known to what extent Cármen Lúcia will hold the government accountable for deforestation in the Amazon, but the minister has already signaled agreement with the parties’ arguments. Last Thursday, she said she sees in Brazil an unconstitutional state of affairs in environmental matters, which is alleged by the subtitles.

When recognizing an unconstitutional state of affairs, the Supreme Court decrees the existence of a situation in which violations of the Constitution are no longer punctual and become continuous, as part of a deficient structure. In 2015, the Court gave this label to the Brazilian prison system.

“Our country has a duty to all humanity, for the impact that preservation or devastation has on the survival of all beings on the planet,” said the minister last Thursday.

The processes

The first of the processes on the agenda today was moved by the Network, in August 2019, based on the figures on forest destruction that had been released by INPE (National Institute for Space Research). The case led the government to fire the physicist and engineer Ricardo Galvão, who commanded the body at the time.

More than a year later, in November 2020, the Network joined six other parties (PT, PSB, PDT, PSOL, PC do B and PV) and presented a new action, to question the closure of the PPCDAm (Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon). It is an environmental protection project created in 2004, during the first Lula government, under the management of former Environment Minister Marina Silva.

The program was discontinued by Bolsonaro. In defense of the government, AGU Bruno bianco argued last week that there was “evolution” to a new project.

“It was in the search for new solutions to prevent and combat deforestation that the new National Plan was conceived, which is, in fact, a clear advance in combating and controlling deforestation in the Amazon,” he said. bianco.

Environmental entities and parties maintain, among other points, that this and other existing programs were effective in protecting the environment, and that the changes in role meant an improvement in the scenario in practice.

They also recall that the government has made proposals in the Legislature that weaken environmental protection, such as the project that releases mining and other activities with a high environmental impact on indigenous lands.

Upon completion of this trial, the ministers will face another five environmental lawsuits, most of them against Bolsonaro’s actions or omissions in the area. See what’s still on the agenda:

  • Use of the Army in Surveillance: lawsuit filed by the PV, in September 2020, questions the use of the Armed Forces in the fight against environmental crimes, through the so-called operation Verde Brasil. The PV argues that the measure emptied the power of environmental agencies created for this purpose, such as Ibama and ICMBio, and placed the leading role in the hands of the military, who have other functions in the State. For the party, there was a “true militarization of Brazilian environmental policy”.
  • Council of the National Environment Fund: in February 2020, the government changed the composition of the deliberative council of the FNMA (National Environmental Fund), excluding representatives of civil society and leaving only government members on the collegiate. Days after the decree that established the change, the Network went to the Supreme Court.
  • Administration of the Amazon Fund: in June 2020, four parties (PT, PSB, PSOL and Rede) went to the STF to protest against the stoppage of the Amazon Fund, aimed at promoting projects to prevent deforestation and aimed at projects to encourage the sustainable use of land. The matter became the subject of a public hearing in the Supreme Court last year, an initiative coordinated by the rapporteur Rosa Weber.
  • Rules against air pollution: of the seven cases on the agenda, this is the only one that was filed by the PGR, still in the administration of Raquel Dodge, Aras’ predecessor. It is an action against a resolution by Conama (National Council for the Environment) approved in 2018, in the Temer government, which put into effect “generic devices that allow the continuation of high levels of atmospheric contamination, harmful to fundamental rights to health and environment”, according to the PGR.
  • environmental licensing: in May of last year, the PSB went to the Supreme Court against a change in the law that allowed the automatic granting of business licenses and licenses to companies that carry out activities classified as “medium risk”. According to the party, these companies expose their employees to regular risks and need to obtain authorizations through face-to-face visits.

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