Ecuador scratches plans not to drill in Amazon

Aug. 16, 2013 at 8:20 AM
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QUITO, Ecuador, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa scratched plans to keep a swatch of the Amazon untouched from oil drilling after a fund to help do so failed.

Correa announced the Yasuni-ITT Initiative in January, promising not to drill in the Yasuni National Park if other nations contributed $3.6 billion -- half the market price of the crude under the land -- to the fund.

In a nationally televised speech Thursday, Correa said the plan failed and drilling in the park would be forthcoming, The Miami Herald reported.

The area holds about 20 percent of the nation's oil reserves, the newspaper said.

"We weren't asking for charity," Correa said of the failed initiative. "We were asking for co-responsibility in the fight against climate change."

Correa said drilling would take place on an area limited to less than 1 percent of the national park. He said new oil-drilling technology would make sure the process would have a minimal effect on the surrounding forest.

Correa blamed developed nations, like the United States, China and Japan, for not contributing to the fund.

"The primary factor for its failure," he said, "is that the world is a great hypocrisy."

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