Washington Babylon — December 18, 2007, 2:34 pm

On the Hunt: Bush backer seeks $1 billion for Peru project

Beginning tomorrow and over the next few weeks, the World Bank and other lenders will be voting, apparently in favor, on a package worth more than $1 billion to support a controversial pipeline project in Peru. The primary company that would benefit from that money is Hunt Oil, which is headed by Ray Hunt, a Texas oilman who raised huge sums for the Bush/Cheney campaigns and who reportedly has given $35 million for the upcoming Bush Presidential Library. Hunt Oil has recently generated controversy of its own, by signing what the New York Times called a “legally questionable” exploration deal with Iraqi Kurds.

The Hunt-led project would “build a pipeline, a gas liquefaction plant, marine terminal and other facilities to export 4.4 million tons of liquid natural gas annually,” according to a 2006 story in the Washington Post. The pipeline would ship liquid natural gas that originates in the Camisea Field of Peru’s Amazonian rain forest and send it to Mexico and from there, possibly, to U.S. markets.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in which the U.S. holds a thirty percent stake, will vote tomorrow on up to $900 million in loans for the Hunt Oil project. The U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) decides Thursday whether to allocate several hundred million dollars worth of support, and the World Bank will vote on a similar amount in January. The IDB already backed an earlier phase of the Camisea project, which has been plagued by problems. Among the troubles, the Post said, were the spilling of “thousands of barrels into pristine rivers and killing the fish upon which indigenous communities depend for their livelihood.”

A number of Peruvian and American groups—including Environmental Defense, Oxfam America, and World Wildlife Fund—are asking for further evaluation of the project before multilateral loans are approved. They point to three broad areas of concern. First are social and environmental issues, as the project runs through a spectacular stretch of the Amazon that is home to 12,000 indigenous people. “The lenders have sold themselves cheap and are not setting high enough standards for their participation,” said Aaron Goldzimer of Environmental Defense.

Similar concerns were expressed in a December 12 letter to Ex-Im from Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont–chairman of the subcommittee which monitors Ex-Im and approves the U.S. contribution to the IDB and World Bank—and his House counterpart, Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York. They wrote:

It is…our understanding that there are unfulfilled commitments and serious failures, risks and concerns still pending from the first phase of the project. These include a lack of fully independent monitoring; ongoing corruption investigations…new planned infrastructure in the Nahua Kugapakori Reserve which may violate previous commitments; a government audit released last month that identified significant problems with pipeline construction…and significant impacts on local culture, human health, fisheries and biodiversity that have not been adequately assessed much less addressed.

Second, the Peruvian government of President Alan Garcia has embarked on an aggressive campaign to dismantle the country’s already weak social and environmental institutions. The government recently fired nearly all the directors of a federal environmental authority, and replaced them with political hacks. (Sound familiar?) Garcia recently axed the country’s superintendent of protected areas when he voiced objections to a proposal that would opened up a large swath of the Bahuaja Sonene National Park for energy exploration.

Garcia has been attacking critics of domestic energy projects as commies and pro-poverty advocates. Meanwhile, the entire Peruvian Amazon has been divided into concessions for oil and gas development. Two years ago, only 15 percent of the Amazon had been parceled out for energy development. Garcia will undoubtedly take multilateral bank support for the Hunt project as a stamp of approval for his approach and use it to further steamroll his domestic opponents.

Lastly, the economic benefits of the project for Hunt Oil are quite clear but far more dubious in the case of Peru. In their letter to Ex-Imp, Leahy and Lowey said they were concerned that Peru did not have sufficient gas reserves to meet both long-term export requirements and domestic demand. What that means is that Peru might well pay more for energy imports down the road than it gets now for its exports. Glenn Jenkins, founder of the Program on Investment Appraisal and Management at the Harvard Institute for International Development, prepared an economic analysis of the project for Environmental Defense. He concluded that massive new reserves are discovered, Peru would be worse off from an economic perspective if the project proceeds.

Back in 2003, the Ex-Im, surprisingly, rejected support for the first phase of the project on environmental grounds, and the Bush administration abstained during the IDB vote. Ray Hunt and his company have been aggressively lobbying in Washington to make sure the administration supports the proposed multilateral funding this time around. Early indications are that the company has succeeded and that the IDB, Ex-Im and World Bank will end up approving support.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2018

The Bodies in The Forest

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Minds of Others

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Modern Despots

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Before the Deluge

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Notes to Self

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Within Reach

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Minds of Others·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Progress is impossible without change,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1944, “and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But progress through persuasion has never seemed harder to achieve. Political segregation has made many Americans inaccessible, even unimaginable, to those on the other side of the partisan divide. On the rare occasions when we do come face-to-face, it is not clear what we could say to change each other’s minds or reach a worthwhile compromise. Psychological research has shown that humans often fail to process facts that conflict with our preexisting worldviews. The stakes are simply too high: our self-worth and identity are entangled with our beliefs — and with those who share them. The weakness of logic as a tool of persuasion, combined with the urgency of the political moment, can be paralyzing.

Yet we know that people do change their minds. We are constantly molded by our environment and our culture, by the events of the world, by the gossip we hear and the books we read. In the essays that follow, seven writers explore the ways that persuasion operates in our lives, from the intimate to the far-reaching. Some consider the ethics and mechanics of persuasion itself — in religion, politics, and foreign policy — and others turn their attention to the channels through which it acts, such as music, protest, and technology. How, they ask, can we persuade others to join our cause or see things the way we do? And when it comes to our own openness to change, how do we decide when to compromise and when to resist?

Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Within Reach·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On a balmy day last spring, Connor Chase sat on a red couch in the waiting room of a medical clinic in Columbus, Ohio, and watched the traffic on the street. His bleached-blond hair fell into his eyes as he scrolled through his phone to distract himself. Waiting to see Mimi Rivard, a nurse practitioner, was making Chase nervous: it would be the first time he would tell a medical professional that he was transgender.

By the time he arrived at the Equitas Health clinic, Chase was eighteen, and had long since come to dread doctors and hospitals. As a child, he’d had asthma, migraines, two surgeries for a tumor that had caused deafness in one ear, and gangrene from an infected bug bite. Doctors had always assumed he was a girl. After puberty, Chase said, he avoided looking in the mirror because his chest and hips “didn’t feel like my body.” He liked it when strangers saw him as male, but his voice was high-pitched, so he rarely spoke in public. Then, when Chase was fourteen, he watched a video on YouTube in which a twentysomething trans man described taking testosterone to lower his voice and appear more masculine. Suddenly, Chase had an explanation for how he felt — and what he wanted.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Before the Deluge·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the summer of 2016, when Congress installed a financial control board to address Puerto Rico’s crippling debt, I traveled to San Juan, the capital. The island owed some $120 billion, and Wall Street was demanding action. On the news, President Obama announced his appointments to the Junta de Supervisión y Administración Financiera. “The task ahead for Puerto Rico is not an easy one,” he said. “But I am confident Puerto Rico is up to the challenge of stabilizing the fiscal situation, restoring growth, and building a better future for all Puerto Ricans.” Among locals, however, the control board was widely viewed as a transparent effort to satisfy mainland creditors — just the latest tool of colonialist plundering that went back generations.

Photograph from Puerto Rico by Christopher Gregory
Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

Illustration by Steve Brodner
Post
CamperForce·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

After losing their savings in the stock market crash of 2008, seniors Barb and Chuck find seasonal employment at Amazon fulfillment centers.

Cost of a baby-stroller cleaning, with wheel detailing, at Tot Squad in New York City:

$119.99

Australian biologists trained monitor lizards not to eat cane toads.

Trump tweeted that he had created “jobs, jobs, jobs” since becoming president, and it was reported that Trump plans to bolster job creation by loosening regulations on the global sale of US-made artillery, warships, fighter jets, and drones.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today