PERU TO CLOSE ENVIRONMENTAL FINE LOOPHOLE
Peru's government announced that it is trying to limit companies' ability to avoid fines by lodging years-long judicial appeals. The move comes from a proposal by President Ollanta Humala to require firms to pay a deposit equal to the fine before asking the courts to suspend it, and is part of a push to crack down on polluters in the nation's mining and energy industries. According to Hugo Gomez, the head of Peru's environmental enforcement agency, appeals filed effectively suspend penalties indefinitely, making environmental sanctions nearly useless. The fine remains suspended while the firm appeals, which "reduces the deterrent impact of the fines," said Gomez. The government also plans on tripling the maximum fine on polluting companies to $42.5 million, reducing fines for companies that voluntarily report their infractions, and creating a laboratory where it can test for toxic chemicals. Humala has promised to increase environmental protections in the mining industry, but critics of the country's five-year-old environment ministry say its enforcement arm is underfunded to stop violations. More than 80 percent of penalties issued for environmental infractions since 2011 have not yet been paid. For the full story, see http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/08/us-peru-environment-fines-idUKBRE9470U220130508.