Chilean president announces new bill seeking jail time for environmental violations

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Some salmon farmers could be under more scutiny with announcement of strict legislation.

The Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has announced a bill to set larger fines and even jail time for serious violations of the country’s environmental laws, marking a shift toward increasing environmental scrutiny in the world’s second largest salmon producer.

According to Reuters, Pinera said in a speech that the initiative would make it a crime to mislead environmental inspectors or to obstruct the enforcement of environmental laws.

The conservative president did not highight any particular industry, but said that increasing scrutiny of large-scale projects by citizen groups and non-governmental organisations had inspired the bill.

Serious environmental infractions would be punished up to two months in jail, and USD $70 thousand. As it stand in Chile – what are deemed environmental crimes in Chile are currently handled by civil or environmental tribunals (or through out-of-court settlements with regulators).

“We’re working to position Chile as an example on a global level in terms of environmental stewardship,” Pinera told reporters.

The proposed bill would empower local and regional authorities to more closely supervise mitigation efforts of projects that have the potential to pose serious environmental threats.

However, the initiative would need to pass both chambers of Chile’s Congress before becoming law.