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PROTECTING AMAZON BASIN
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PROTECTING AMAZON BASIN

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From the New York Times:Brazil's president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, has on his desk legislation that finally gives the country's environmental agency a modicum of power to enforce environmental laws. But a coalition of ranchers and industrialists managed to strip the bill of some of its toughest provisions and is trying to persuade Cardoso to veto important measures that remain. Before doing so, he should think carefully about a report issued recently by the Brazilian National Space Research Institute, which found that deforestation caused by both cutting and burning in Brazil's Amazon - already affecting 22,000 square miles - is growing.

The problem is that Brazil has good laws on the books protecting the Amazon, but no enforcement power.

A study by the Woods Hole Research Institute in Massachusetts found that cutting and burning have alread dried out the forest to the point that it could burn out of control, and deforestation will increase as Asian logging companies move deeper into the Amazon.

Cardoso must refrain from further weakening an already weak bill.

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