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Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 8:29 p.m.

Brazilian Senate loosens Amazon protections

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazil's Senate has passed a preliminary environmental bill that relaxes rules limiting deforestation in the Amazon.
The bill passed by a 59-7 vote, but lawmakers still have to vote on 70 amendments that were tacked onto it.
Supporters say they will knock down any amendment that makes substantial changes to the original legislation.
Any amendments will also have to be voted on by the lower house, which passed the initial bill. President Dilma Rousseff will have to sign it into law.
The legislation would increase areas where planting or grazing is allowed and forgive fines issued to farmers who illegally cleared forests before July 2008.
Critics say the bill would rapidly increase deforestation. Backers say it will boost Brazil's food output.
Story tags » Natural resources

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