In March this year, the Brazilian Congress began deliberating a bill that would exclude the state of Mato Grosso from the country’s formally recognized Amazonian region, or the Legal Amazon. The justification behind the bill, introduced by Congress members Juarez Costa from the Democratic Movement (MDB) party and Neri Geller from the Progressive (PP) party, is to allow a greater degree of legal deforestation by ranchers and farmers. Rural landowners within the Legal Amazon are required to preserve 80% of their property, a portion known as the legal reserve. If the bill passes, the legal reserve for rural properties in Mato Grosso would go down to 35%, effectively freeing up an area of 10 million hectares (25 million acres) that can be legally deforested. That amounts to an area the size of the states of Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro combined. Now, a new analysis shows that Costa and Geller, whose parties are both part of the ruling coalition of President Jair Bolsonaro, received significant funding in the last election from environmental violators — individuals sanctioned or fined by IBAMA, the federal environmental protection agency. In fact, more candidates were financed by environmental violators in Mato Grosso in the 2018 election than in any other state, according to the analysis, raking in 6 million reais ($1.5 million at the prevailing exchange rate) in total. It also showed that these environmental violators had racked up a combined more than 260 million reais ($67 million) as of the time of the…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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