Ecuador Rejects Oil Drilling
Ecuadorians voted to stop an oil drilling project in a portion of the Amazon, with 59% of voters yesterday approving a referendum to ban oil development in an oil-rich slice of Yasuní National Park. The result means Ecuador's state oil company, Petroecuador, must close all of its active oil wells in the respective area within the next year.
Yasuní covers 2.5 million acres along the eastern portion of Ecuador's border with Peru and is home to Indigenous communities, including the Taromenane and Tagaeri. Yasuní was designated a UNESCO site in 1989 as it contains hundreds of different species of plants and animals. The area also holds one of Ecuador's largest crude oil reserves, comprising 12% of the 480,000 barrels of oil the South American country produces per day. Petroecuador previously said approving the referendum would cost Ecuador $13.8B in income over the next two decades. See an overview of the issue here.
Nearly 70% of voters also supported a ban on gold mining in the Chocó Andino forest northwest of Ecuador's capital of Quito. The forest was declared a protected biosphere by UNESCO in 2018 for its biodiversity.