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Reforma a la Ley N°19.300 sobre Bases Generales del Medio Ambiente.

On November 17, 2023, the Council of Ministers for Sustainability and Climate Change unanimously approved the proposal to amend Law No. 19.300 on General Environmental Framework. The bill is expected to be submitted by the Government in the coming weeks to initiate its legislative processing in the Chamber of Deputies.

Recently, the Ministry of the Environment presented a consolidated document outlining the changes intended for Law No. 19.300. Some of these changes include:

  1. Regarding Strategic Environmental Assessment, it is proposed that the procedure be carried out by the relevant State Administration body in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment.
  2. It establishes that projects or activities incompatible with mandatory and current territorial planning instruments should be classified unfavorably.
  3. Concerning the qualification of projects or activities, the Evaluation Committee and the Ministerial Committee are eliminated, and the decision-making is vested in the Executive Director and the Regional Director of the Environmental Evaluation Service (SEA).
  4. New entry typologies are incorporated into the Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA), such as industrial hydrogen production or storage projects and industrial desalination plants, as well as intensive seawater extraction projects.
  5. Existing entry typologies to SEIA are modified, including the removal of the "greater than 3 MW" threshold for power generation plants, service stations, the description "on fragile soils" in forestry development or exploitation projects, and the transportation of toxic, explosive, radioactive, inflammable, corrosive, or reactive substances.
  6. Cumulative impacts resulting from interaction with other projects and activities in the area of influence, as well as the potential synergistic effect between them, are now considered in environmental assessments.
  7. The Environmental Impact Declarations (DIA) must now include the indication of relevant environmental variables to be included in a monitoring plan, where applicable.
  8. It is established that in cases where the DIA pertains to projects or activities that must be urgently implemented to address unavoidable public needs or services that cannot be halted without serious harm to the country, the evaluation period will be reduced by half.
  9. The requirement that citizen participation in DIAs only applies to projects generating environmental burdens for nearby communities is eliminated.
  10. Regarding environmental damage liability, it is stipulated that the Council of State Defense will always have active standing to file a lawsuit against the party responsible for environmental damage.
  11. Some powers of the Council of Ministers for Sustainability and Climate Change are eliminated, such as proposing sectoral policies for strategic environmental assessment to the President of the Republic.
  12. The SEA is granted the authority to exercise technical leadership over environmental impact assessment, the instruction of the evaluation procedure, and the coordination of State administration bodies with environmental competence to obtain necessary permits or statements regarding projects or activities subject to SEIA.

For additional information on this matter, please contact: Javier Naranjo, jnaranjo@jdf.cl; Martín Esser, messer@jdf.cl; María Paz Valenzuela, mpvalenzuela@jdf.cl.

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