ICMBIO Changes Procedure Regarding Environmental Licensing

Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (“ICMBIO”, Portuguese acronym) published Normative Instruction No. 10/2020, establishing a new procedure for the agency’s carrying out of directives in environmental licensing processes.

ICMBIO is responsible for analyzing and evaluating the impacts that certain activities, subject to environmental licensing procedures, may cause to federal conservation units and their buffer zones.

One of ICMBIO’s directives in licensing processes is the Environmental Licensing Authorization (“ALA”, Portuguese acronym), an administrative act in which ICMBIO authorizes the competent environmental agency to proceed with the environmental licensing of activities that affect the federal conservation units or their buffer zones.

Depending on the characteristics of the activities, the process to obtain the ALA may be conducted:

  1. At ICMBIO’s head office, when the environmental licensing (a) occurs at the federal level; (b) is for an activity with significant environmental impact, based on an Environmental Impact Study; or (c) affects conservation units linked to more than one Regional Management administration; or
  2. At the Regional Management level, when the licensing occurs at state, district or municipal level and the activity is not considered of significant environmental impact by the licensing agency.

In short, the procedure to obtain the ALA will follow the following steps: (I) administrative proceeding initiation; (II) issuance of a statement on the Reference Term, in the case that the consultation was filed by the licensing agency; (III) analysis of the studies approved by the licensing agency and issuance of opinion; (IV) if applicable, requirement for complementary studies; (V) issuance and payment of the Union Collection Form (“GRU”, Portuguese acronym); (VI) decision as to the granting of ALA; and (VII) communication to the licensing environmental agency and, upon written request by the interested party, communication to the interested party.

Within 60 days of receiving the ALA request, ICMBIO shall issue a motivated decision and inform the agency of the following possible decisions: (i) granting of ALA; (ii) requirement of complementary studies; (iii) incompatibility with the conservation unit of the alternative presented for the activity to be carried out; or (iv) rejection of the request.

It is important to note that even after the ALA is issued, ICMBIO may, by reasoned decision, review at any time and modify the conditions and measures of control and adjustment established in the ALA, or decide to cancel it, under the following circumstances: (i) violation or inadequacy of any legal recommendations or rules related to the authorized activities; (ii) omission or false description of relevant information that supported the ALA issuance; and (iii) supervening of an exceptional or unpredictable event after ALA request presentation.

The Normative Instruction also establishes the following procedures: (i) request for technical statement from the National Center for Research and Conservation on threatened species and other objects of study by the Center; (ii) issuance of a statement within the scope of environmental licensing affecting natural underground cavities in federal conservation units; (iii) acknowledgment by ICMBIO in cases regarding activities not subject to Environmental Impact Studies; and (iv) consent to issue authorization for capture, collection and transportation of biological material.

Demarest’s Environmental Law team is available to provide further information or clarification on this and other related matters.