Enron’s End Run
Here’s another victim of Enron: the Chiquitano Dry Tropical Forest, one of the two most valuable forests in Latin America and one of the 200 most endangered eco-regions in the world, according to the World Bank and the World Wildlife Fund, respectively. The forest was the largest remaining undeveloped land of its kind in South America — until Enron built a 390-mile natural gas pipeline directly through it. Perhaps even more horrifying, the project was given the go-ahead and $200 million by a U.S. agency, Overseas Private Investment Corp., that is charged with protecting sensitive forest areas. Enron needed OPIC’s backing because no commercial bank would finance the project; OPIC needed Enron because of a congressional battle to eliminate the agency. Enron successfully lobbied against the elimination, and OPIC backed the pipeline project even though one of its environmental reviewers is said to have exclaimed that there was “no way in hell” it should be funded.