Economic analysis of a proposal to expand the Panama Canal

Expanding the Panama Canal

CSF helped the Centro de Asistencia Legal Popular (CEALP) analyze plans to expand the Panama Canal. After participating in a CSF training in 1999, CEALP lawyer Erya Harbar proposed a legal and economic analysis of infrastructure that would effect both natural ecosystems and campesino communities. The study examined the economic efficiency and equity of the proposed $8 billion expansion proposed in 1999. The proposal involves three new dams plus aqueducts, transmission lines and roads in a remote 500,000-acre area of forest and small towns. The goal of CSF's work with CEALP was to inform affected rural communities and stimulate consideration of the financial and environmental tradeoffs of canal expansion in the national policy debate on the issue.

Changuinola-Teribe Dams in Panama

We analyzed four hydroelectric projects planed in Panama’s Bocas del Toro Province. All four projects would be located in the Changuinola-Teribe watershed, within the limits of the Palo Seco Protected Forest (known by the Spanish acronym BPPS). Three of these projects would be built on the Changuinola River, with the fourth on the Bonyic River. Both rivers have their headwaters within the Amistad International Park (PILA). The dams’ combined installed capacity would be 446 megawatts, equivalent to 30 percent of Panama’s total capacity at the end of 2004. Our analysis suggests that the projects would most likely be both economically and financially feasible.

Jalapão Water Diversion

Three Brazil 2000 course participants not previously acquainted worked together to analyze potential impacts of water diversion from the Tocantins River in central Brazil. The project would have diverted water from the Tocantins in the Jalapáo region, a unique transition zone between Cerrado woodland and caatinga. The water would be pumped into Brazil's arid Northeast for irrigation and hydroelectric power. Fani Mamede, formerly of IBAMA, Brazil's environmental agency, Paulo Garcia, a conservationist working with the municipality of Mateiros and Wilson Cabral, an engineer at the Sáo Paulo-based Technology and Aeronautics Institute, performed an analysis of the project's potentially extensive environmental and economic impacts.

Belo Monte Dam

In this study, we analyzed the costs and benefits of the Belo Monte project on the Xingu River in the Southern Amazon. For our analysis, we created three scenarios. The first examines only the “internal” costs and benefits of Belo Monte as an energy project, excluding the costs of its impacts on competing economic activities and the environment. In the second scenario we included some external costs: tourism losses, impacts on water supply and fisheries and declines in water quality during construction. The third scenario also includes these external costs, and estimated energy benefits based on an alternative model, called HydroSim, developed at the Campinas State University (UNICAMP) in São Paulo.

Economic Benefits of Madidi National Park

There is much debate over whether natural protected areas restrict economic development or enable it. In this study we assessed the local economic benefits provided by Madidi National Park & Natural Area of Integrated Management, one of Bolivia’s largest protected areas, and also one of the most important globally for biodiversity conservation. We applied this analysis approach previously for Amazonian protected areas near Manaus, Brazil.

Dams and Roads in the Madeira Basin

In this analysis, we assess the effect of Madeira River energy and transportation infrastructure projects on soybean expansion. Precarious transportation networks and natural barriers have kept the region of the Upper Madeira River geographically and economically isolated and have contributed to the low population densities, particularly in the Bolivian States of Beni and Pando. The development potential of this area, where Brazil, Peru and Bolivia meet, lies in the possibilities of accessing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by river or through the construction and pavement of roads.

Syndicate content