The government says it's looking out for the economy and job growth; critics say it's "the biggest attack on the Amazon of the last 50 years." The BBC reports on a big move out of Brazil, where a protected area will be protected no more—at least in part. Located in Brazil's north, the 17,800-square-mile National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca) will be opened to commercial mining following Wednesday's scrapping of its protected status. The area is thought to be home to stores of gold, iron, and other minerals.
Reuters explains much of Renca will actually still be protected, as nearly 70% of it is earmarked for indigenous peoples or under the conservation mandates of Amapa state, which it partially occupies. But critics see the potential for disaster. As the head of WWF-Brazil puts it, mining there could spur "demographic explosion, deforestation, the destruction of water resources, the loss of biodiversity, and the creation of land conflict." CNBC has the government's response: "Permission to develop research and mining applies only to areas where there are no other restrictions, such as protection of native vegetation, conservation units, indigenous lands, and areas in border strips." (Read more Brazil stories.)