The legal action centred on the construction and operation of Matheu II and Matheu III, thermoelectric power plants in Pilar, Argentina. The plaintiffs, comprising a coalition of individuals and non-governmental organizations, argued that these projects lacked the necessary environmental assessments and contended that relying on fossil fuels for power generation ran contrary to international agreements such as the American Convention on Human Rights, the Paris Agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, among others. Initially, the Federal Court of Campana granted precautionary measures to halt construction, citing environmental and procedural concerns, safeguarding collective interests, and mitigating potential harm. However, in December 2022, they allowed limited operation of Matheu III, considering global energy challenges. In June 2023, the court denied an extension for Matheu III, citing noise pollution concerns raised by the Municipality of Pilar and emphasizing the need to balance energy production with local environmental well-being.
The legal action was undertaken with the primary objective of preventing the construction and operation of the thermoelectric power stations Matheu II and Matheu III. The plaintiffs asserted that these plants had initiated construction without fulfilling the proper environmental assessment. Furthermore, they argued that the use of fossil fuels in power generation was in violation of international human rights treaties, climate agreements, and domestic regulations. They asserted that the operation of these power plants posed a significant threat to the environment, public health, and the fundamental human right to enjoy a healthy and balanced environment.
Initially, the Federal Court of Campana ruled in favor of the plaintiffs by issuing precautionary measures that temporarily halted the construction and operation of the power plants. These measures were based on environmental and procedural considerations, as well as protecting collective interests and preventing potential harm, as stipulated in domestic law. However, the court’s decisions did not explicitly address the issue of climate impact.
Subsequently, Araucaria, one of the plant operators, secured a partial adjustment to the precautionary measures in December 2022. This modification permitted the temporary and limited operation of Matheu III, partially due to concerns stemming from the global energy crisis and the resultant surge in energy prices, driven in part by geopolitical events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
However, in June 2023, the Federal Court of Campana chose not to extend the authorization for the partial operation of Matheu III. The decision was prompted by concerns raised by the Municipality of Pilar regarding noise pollution. This ruling reflects the court’s consideration of local environmental and public health concerns, highlighting the importance of balancing energy production with environmental and societal well-being.
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Status of the case:
The case is currently pending before the Federal Court of Campana.
Hahn et al. v. APR Energy S.R.L (Juvevir Asociación Civil v. APR Energy and Araucaria Energy) (Federal Court of Campagna, Argentina), Case No: FSM 116712/2017
03 November 2023.