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11:38 AM
CONTACT:   Friends of the Earth
Jon Sohn FOE 202-412-2467
Atossa Soltani AW 310-456-9158
Nadia Martinez IPS 202-234-9382
Aaron Goldzimer ED 202-387-3500
Public Bank to Decide on Bush-Cheney Amazon Drilling Plan - Bianca Jagger Arrives in DC in Final Push to Defend Peru's Rainforest
WASHINGTON - September 9 - Human rights advocate, Bianca Jagger arrived in the nation's capital today in a last minute effort to urge the Inter-American Development (IDB) to reject financing for the controversial Camisea fossil fuel project in the Peruvian Amazon. The IDB, a taxpayer-backed lending agency, is expected to decide on Wednesday whether to approve a US$136 million loan for the controversial project. Camisea's critics contend that support to the project would pave the way for the indiscriminate destruction of one of the world's most pristine rainforests and threatens the physical survival of isolated indigenous populations.

The IDB delayed consideration of the project twice in recent months due to outstanding concerns. On August 28, these concerns led the U.S. Export Import Bank to reject $214 million in financing on the grounds that Camisea did not meet the bank's environmental standards. Two U.S. oil companies, Hunt Oil and Halliburton, stand to benefit from the IDB's decision. The IDB's largest shareholder is the U.S. Government with 30 percent of the vote.

"I cannot silently watch the IDB hand over public funds to Bush and Cheney's campaign contributors to use to destroy indigenous peoples and rainforest in the Amazon," said human rights advocate, Bianca Jagger who is meeting today with the president of the IDB and U.S. Treasury Department officials. "Camisea is a disaster in the making and I urge the IDB and the U.S. government to reject the project."

"Our coalition has proposed solutions but the Peruvian government and the companies have so far refused to fix Camisea's fundamental flaws," said Jon Sohn of Friends of the Earth who accompanied Ms. Jagger to meetings with Bank officials.

A growing coalition of scientists, activists and celebrities in Peru and the United States. maintains that the project fails to meet international standards. Demands include abandoning plans for drilling inside the indigenous reserve deep in the Amazon, and the relocation of a gas plant far from the internationally recognized Paracas marine reserve. To date, these conditions have not been met.

"The IDB is risking a dangerous precedent by rewarding companies that plow ahead with construction, using irresponsible methods and designs," said Aaron Goldzimer of Environmental Defense. "Ex-Im, OPIC and Citigroup have all rejected the project for failing to meet international standards. The IDB is lowering the bar if they give public support to Camisea."


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