Brazil environment minister steps down amid illegal logging investigation

Brazil environment minister steps down amid illegal logging investigation
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Brazil’s environment minister stepped down from his position on Wednesday amid an investigation over an illegal logging operation.

Ricardo Salles is being investigated for allegedly obstructing a police probe involving illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest. The criminal investigation was approved by a Supreme Court justice earlier this month.

"I understand that Brazil throughout this year and next on the international stage and also in the national agenda needs to have a strong union of interests," Salles said Wednesday, according to Reuters. "So that this can be done in the most serene manner possible, I submitted my resignation."

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Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is appointing Joaquim Alvaro Pereira Leite to replace Salles, according to Reuters.

Salles and the Biden administration were in talks in April about reducing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest if the U.S. would pay $1 billion.

“We think that $1 billion, which is only 5% of the $20 billion that were mentioned during the campaign…is a very reasonable amount that can be mobilized up front,” Salles said at the time.

Two sources with knowledge on the matter told Reuters conversations had stalled between Brazil and the U.S. on the subject, but it is unclear if that was due to Salles.