You may have noticed that for the past week, instead of San Pedro happenings, parties, invites to this beautiful country, new restaurants and pretty pictures of the beach, my blog has taken a different tone. One that I couldn’t feel more passionate about – one that I know this town and this country feels passionate about – the greatest natural gift this country has –>
BELIZE’S BARRIER REEF
What happened: The Government of Belize allowed oil exploration to begin off-shore seismic testing over our waters and around our reef system without public consultation or a public announcement – that is THE LAW .
Or wait…maybe it is not. There are a few too many uses of the word: MAY.
“The environmental legislation of Belize requires that any project or activity which may have significant impact on the environment may be required to carry out an EIA and following the rules as set out in the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations and its Amendment of 2007…” – Department of the Environment Website
What happened: Days after the testing started, in response to a public outcry, the Government called a meeting with “stakeholders” who PASSIONATELY voiced their opinions and the seismic testing was halted.
Yesterday the Belize Cabinet met to discuss this and other matters in a Closed Session.
One minister spoke to the news yesterday afternoon and said to Channel 5 News: “One of the conditions that I have seen for lifting of any moratorium, is that you would bring in some expert who would look at the economic cost benefit of lifting it, if you want. But then I asked from my own technical and engineering point of view: how on earth would you know what the benefit would be, if you first don’t do a study to find out what is there? And my understanding of the seismic was just that – it’s not going to – the experts have said that it’s not going to destroy anything…”
He called the public’s response under-informed “huffing and puffing”.
Here is what Oceana has to say about the issue – they are working CLOSELY with the people of San Pedro and holding public consultations with other groups around the country this week.
UPDATE ON OUR REEF: From Oceana Belize –> “UPDATE. We have just gotten confirmation that now the position of the Government of Belize is that it was only collecting data to inform its position on offshore oil especially in light of conditions such as a cost benefit analysis.”
There are lots of problems with this:
The data was not going to be simply collected and handed over to the Government of Belize. The Government was going to get a copy of the raw data and the agreed processed reports. However, the company, TGS, having expended approximately 6 million Belize dollars for both surveys, was going to SELL the data to recover its money. (Oceana)
Please make sure to attend that in your area!
And here is some emotional huffing and puffing from me. I would argue that NO ONE is more informed about this reef than the citizens of the country, the tour guides, the fishermen, the divers, the scientists and all the people of San Pedro. We see it, we hear it, we love it and we are protected by it each and every day.
Our high school students look out their school room windows and see it.
There was no public consultation on what is known to be an environmentally controversial issue. ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT THE PEOPLE OF BELIZE HAVE BEEN SO VOCAL ON THIS SUBJECT. #NOMEANSNO
Why does the government need to know about this oil if there are no plans to drill? Risk/benefit assessment? So if we have oil, it will make sense to drill? Remember that the DeepWater Horizon accident in the gulf cost British Petroleum $62billion dollars US. $62 billion.
So…maybe they won’t drill. They can use these reserves found in exploration as collateral for loans. The government is now buckling beneath the weight of the last government’s “Super Bond” as well as their own debt. We all know that once there is a change of government no one seems to feel accountable anymore. “Well…that was the prior administration…”. Caught in this strangle hold by oil companies, do we have a chance?
This is NOT a political decision, this is not about “tree huggers” – this is our lives at risk. Our livelihoods, our childrens’,
Government officials were not divinely appointed, they were voted in by the people, by us. They are public servants – they work for us. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
No one should be ashamed for being passionate about an issue that means everything to this community and this island.
Now the question is: what do they plan going forward?