Colombian court bans oil, gas and mining operations in paramos

Colombia’s Constitutional Court has ruled against a controversial legal loophole permitting oil, gas and mining operations in the country’s paramos – high altitude eco-systems. Colombia’s paramos are the most extensive on earth and supply more than 70% of the country’s population with water, according to the Bogota-based Alexander von Humboldt Institute.

The loophole is in a June 2015 law implementing Colombia’s “National Development Plan 2014-2018.” The law prohibits “agricultural activities” and the “exploration for or exploitation of non-renewable natural resources”, as well as the “construction of oil and gas refineries”, in paramos, but then states that mining operations which have contracts and environmental licenses dating to before 9 February 2010, or oil and gas operations with contracts and licenses dating to before 16 June 2011, are exempted.

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“The paramos are vital because they’re a source of drinking water for 70% of Colombians, strategic reserves of biodiversity, and carbon sequesters. The court acknowledged all that in the sentence.”

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