Brazil Implements Decree Setting Limits On Environmental Impact Fees for Projects

International Environment Reporter™ helps you understand environmental laws, regulations, policies and trends in major industrialized and developing nations, as well as in international governmental...

RIO DE JANEIRO—The enforcement and licensing arm of Brazil's Environment Ministry (IBAMA), July 14 implemented a 2009 presidential decree setting maximum environmental impact fees companies must pay for projects they need licensed, an IBAMA official told BNA.

The presidential decree (No. 6,848), issued in May 2009 by then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, set a maximum fee of 0.5 percent of the project's initial investment costs, minus what the company spends to mitigate environmental impact and insure against environmental accidents. It said IBAMA would determine the exact percentage by using the project's environmental impact assessment to determine impact on biodiversity and nearby protected areas (32 INER 446, 5/27/09).

Under the IBAMA measure (No. 8/2011), if the project, like a road or a railway, is licensed in stages or stretches, each with a different environmental impact, the agency would determine a fee for each stage or stretch. If the agency has not fixed the fee by the time it awards the project an installation or building license, IBAMA and the project's developer will sign an agreement giving some indication of what the fee will be.

Goal to Streamline Process

The effect will be to streamline the environmental impact fee payment and licensing process, an IBAMA spokeswoman told BNA July 20.

São Paulo environmental lawyer Fernando Tabet told BNA July 21 that the IBAMA measure also “legally reinforces the decree, and in doing so leaves no room for companies, courts, or any other entity, to question its methodology.”

When the presidential decree was issued, companies welcomed the maximum 0.5 fee because it created a ceiling that allowed them to calculate, in advance, the environmental costs of projects to see if they were economically viable.

Environmental compensation fees will continue to be used to create and maintain federally or state protected areas.

Committee to Decide How Fees Are Spent

Another IBAMA measure (No. 225), issued June 30 with the Chico Mendes Institute (ICMBio), the biodiversity arm of the Environment Ministry, created a Federal Committee on Environmental Compensation made up of members of the Environment Ministry, IBAMA, and ICMBio.

The committee will determine how environmental impact fees will be spent in protected areas, something ICMBio used to decide.

“Most of the environment compensation fees will be used to buy land titles needed to create protected areas or to draft plans needed to manage and protect them,” Braulio Dias, the ministry's secretary of biodiversity and forests, told BNA July 20.

By Michael Kepp


Full text of IBAMA measure No. 8/2011 on environmental impact fees is available, in Portuguese, at . Use arrow at top to turn the page.

Full text of the joint IBAMA/ICMBio measure creating a committee on environmental compensation is available, in Portuguese, at .